VIETNAM: A Step in the Right Direction for Social Media Freedom

YVONNE EPPS WRITES— Today’s generation would find it hard to imagine life without social media. And at least some people in the government seem to have caught on.

According to TuoiTreNews, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung stated that authorities must provide “official and accurate information in a timely manner on social media” on the basis that it is impossible to ban people from using social media. Nguyen released this statement as part of a meeting to review the government’s performance and future plans for 2015.  He also emphasized that the public’s right to accurate information is guaranteed in doing so and supports the use of social media as a news outlet.

News like this is shocking given the country’s track record of how it  treats its press and social media users. It is unclear whether or not the prime minister is genuinely pursuing a more accessible social media platform for citizens, or something much more subversive.

Helen Clark of Asian Correspondent sees the statement as positive and a sign that the government realizes the need to modernize in order to be successful. However, she emphasizes that this doesn’t mean that the government is moving towards press freedom and free expression as the statement concerns the information published by officials. The Associated Press makes it clear that Vietnam has a high arrest rate for bloggers and Internet users that critique the government, so it’s not yet time to cheer with gusto.

Whether the statement is sincere or not, the prime minister makes a good point. Citizens struggle with the validity of news sources due to the state controlled nature of journalism, forcing them to turn to the wealth of far from certain information on the net. Despite the questionable agenda of the government, they are starting to rebuild bridges by making a conscious effort to provide accurate information on a platform that citizens use, but it is too early to know whether this bridge will be complete or collapse.


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