Vietnam: Facebook User Fined for Distributing “Fake News” Critical of Government’s COVID-19 Response

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In this photo illustration, a smart phone screen displays the logo of Facebook on a Facebook website background, on April 7, 2021. (Image: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Vietnamese Facebook user, Nguyen Thuy Duong, has been fined by Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City police for posting content critical of the country’s COVID-19 response. Her posts accuse authorities of neglecting residents and letting them go hungry amid lockdowns implemented to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

The Facebook user was fined VND 5 million (US$ 210.00) on Thursday after posting on July 22 that lockdown measures enforced by authorities in the Binh Truong ward of Thu Duc City prevented resident’s from receiving relief packages. 

The user was fined for contravening Government Decree 15 which governs “the use of postal services, telecommunications, and other information technologies,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. 

Duong said in an online statement that authorities had reached her by phone claiming that they had found four witnesses who said people living in the area had not been left without access to food. 

In response, Duong told RFA, “I told them that I had 40 witnesses who could prove that people had been forced to beg for food. And to prove my goodwill, and so as not to argue with them, I suggested they speak to people in the lockdown area in person.”

Reportedly, people in the affected area continue to call Duong to report problems they are facing, however police were allegedly uncooperative when presented the opportunity to hear from residents first hand. 

Vietnam is currently battling a fourth wave of the coronavirus disease. To combat the virus cities and provinces in the nation have implemented strict social distancing measures, have restricted people from leaving their homes and have shuttered factories and other businesses resulting in many becoming unemployed. 

To date, 536,788 cases of the virus have been detected in Vietnam and 13,385 deaths have been reported, according to www.worldmeters.info.