January 19, 2021

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Vietnam inaugurates portal to deal with fake news

Vietnam has launched a new portal dedicated to dealing with fake news. The Vietnam Anti Fake News Centre (VAFC) was built and is operated by the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information.

The organisation has been tasked with receiving online reports of fake news. The portal defines fake news as inaccurate, untested, censored information, appearing incorrectly in content, and spread via the Internet and other media.

According to a news report, the portal spots and discredits fake news and publishes correct information. The portal also actively detects information trends with a large number of sharing and interacting to evaluate, appraise, and label possible fake news. It also offers instructions on how to recognise, prevent, and deal with fake news.

All individuals and organisations can also reflect on fake news through the switchboard 18008108 operated by Viettel Group, with guidance on how to report fake news provided when connecting to the hotline.

At the launching held in Hanoi on 12 January, a representative from the VAFC called for support from the relevant authorities at all levels, especially press agencies, to assess information and detect fake news, helping prevent and repel bad news and maintain a healthy network environment.

In addition to curbing the spread of fake news, the government has created policies for its ministries and private players to detect and block spam. Five major mobile service providers – Viettel, VinaPhone, MobiFone, Vietnamobile, and the virtual network I-Telecom blocked more than 89,600 mobile subscribers spreading spam calls in the last six months of 2020, according to the Department of Telecom under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

In December 2020 alone, the providers handled 17,290 subscribers: 7,844 by Viettel (45%), 7,301 by VinaPhone (42%), 1,155 by MobiFone (7%), 868 by I-Telecom (5%), and 122 by Vietnamobile (1%).

A representative from the department said that in the future, it will work closely with the mobile service suppliers to enhance the public and businesses’ awareness of spam numbers and spam messages, encouraging them to use registered SIM cards.

Spam calls and messages are delivered mostly to advertise products and services, such as offers to sell houses, apartments, and condotels, and include invitations to buy insurance policies, use financial services, and register for English training courses.

The subjects that deliver spam calls and messages use sophisticated technical measures that change regularly to deceive appropriate agencies. Earlier last July, the department coordinated with the subscribers to launch a number of technical solutions using big data and machine learning to identify subscribers with signs of spreading spam calls and messages.

In August 2020, the government issued a decree on the measures to prevent and reduce spam messages, emails, and calls. These included building anti-spam systems and developing criteria to identify spam. Monitoring and sharing information and databases on sources of spam and collecting and handling complaints.

Further, the government claimed it would supervise advertising service provision via text messages, emails, and calls; prevent and revoke electronic addresses spreading spam; strengthen domestic coordination and international cooperation; and raise awareness about spam prevention.