HANOI – A new decree took effect in Vietnam on Wednesday introducing fines for the dissemination of “fake news” or rumors on social media, amid the rapid spread of comment online about the novel coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.
The first COVID-19 cases were detected in Vietnam this January and the health ministry has reported 267 infections so far with no deaths, numbers well below those seen in some other Asian countries.
Local authorities have already fined hundreds of people for posting what they described as “fake news” about the virus, using the term popularised by US President Donald Trump, based on existing legal provisions. But the new decree, drafted in February, supersedes one from 2013 which does not specifically cover ‘fake news’, new guidelines say.
A fine of 10-20 million dong ($426-$853), equivalent to around three to six months’ basic salary in Vietnam, will be imposed on people who use social media to share false, untruthful, distorted, or slanderous information, according to the decree.