Vietnam imposes $870 fines for posting fake news

Dr. Cap (Soha)

Dr. Nguyen Trung Cap: We are too tired and exhausted because of fake news (Soha)

HANOI: A decree signed by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in February stipulating sanctions against those spreading fake news and rumors on social media has come into effect.

Amid a deluge of online misinformation about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the country, the decree is expected to provide authorities a legal tool to deal with these violations, especially that many social media users have been posting untrue news about the coronavirus, causing public panic.

Under the decree, a fine of $ 430-870 will be imposed on people using social networks to share harmful news that causes public panic, arouses violence, or promotes gambling.

Those sharing messages encouraging erroneous information or describing details of horror, scary accidents, and criminal actions will face similar penalties, Vietnamese media said.

Medical staff have been vociferously complaining about how fake news and false allegations were causing harm to society and mainly to patients.

Dr Nguyen Trung Cap, Head of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases’ Emergency Department – where most severe coronavirus patients are receiving care, has recently told Soha.vn that he and his colleagues “are too tired and exhausted because of fake news and sensational stories.”

“Fake news and messy information on social networks are so serious. Confusing information distracts society, creates unnecessary and subjective worries and even reaches bizarre extremes. For instance, there was once a horrible plea: To drink urine to prevent and cure coronavirus! Such serious misinformation only leads to much confusion,” he said.

Fake news diverts resources in a way that is too wasteful and unnecessary, he added.

“For example, instead of gathering the medical staff to look after the cases of two genuine patients, we had to assign a medical doctor to explain to the three dozen people who had gathered to express worries. It is clear that patients who really need care will not be adequately cared for.”

According to the media, Doctor Cap’s did not overstate about the situation.

In February, the Ministry of Public Security said that 170 individuals had been questioned by authorities for spreading false information relating to the COVID-19 epidemic.

On April 15, a flower shop owner was fined $530 for posting misleading reports about COVID-19 prevention and control on the page of her flower shop.

She later told the Information and Communications Department that the post was false and that she just wanted to attract more people to view her page and sell more flowers.

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