TikTok Vietnam says it’s ready for ‘harmful’ content probe

TikTok Vietnam says it's ready for 'harmful' content probe Vietnamese government
Image by Mehaniq | Bigstockphoto

The Vietnamese government is gearing up to launch an inspection of controversial video platform TikTok over concerns of “harmful” content and misinformation.

The head of the information ministry’s department of radio, television, and electronic information, Le Quang Tu Do, recently claimed that TikTok Vietnam contains a significant amount of harmful, offensive, false, and superstitious content.

Tu Do also expressed concern that TikTok’s algorithm may be contributing to the rapid spread of toxic content. A thorough investigation is planned for next month.

Officials from the Ministries of Information and Communications and Industry and Trade, as well as the General Department of Taxation, will meet with TikTok management in the second quarter of this year.

Tiktok welcomes ‘constructive feedback’

A company spokesperson for TikTok expressed enthusiasm in an interview with VnExpress, stating that the visit provides an excellent opportunity for TikTok to receive valuable input from the government. The company says it is eagerly anticipating constructive feedback from agencies following the inspection.

The app, which launched in Vietnam in 2019, has nearly 50 million users aged 18 and above, making it the second-largest TikTok audience in Southeast Asia.

However, in the first quarter of 2022, TikTok reportedly removed over 2.4 million videos from Vietnamese users that promoted violence, harassment, and suicide, among other issues.

According to DataReportal, TikTok removed 1.7 million videos in Vietnam during the last quarter of the previous year due to policy violations. The government issued 292 requests related to uploads in the first half of the same year, with two-thirds calling for content removal.

TikTok operates TikTok Shop in Vietnam and reportedly tested an in-app gaming feature in the country last year. TikTok Shop has been gaining traction in Southeast Asia since last year, rivaling top ecommerce platforms Shopee and Lazada.

Ban unlikely (at least in Vietnam)

Ross Tapsell, a lecturer and researcher at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, told TechinAsia that TikTok’s user base in Southeast Asia is “so large and so engaged” that regulators in the region are unlikely to consider banning the app.

However, outside of Southeast Asia, the platform has recently faced potential bans in various countries due to concerns over alleged ties to the Chinese government. Last month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before US lawmakers, emphasizing the app’s commitment to ensuring US data is managed and controlled by a US-based company under Project Texas.

Earlier this week, the Australian government said it would prohibit government employees from using TikTok on work-issued devices due to security concerns. Australia joins a growing list of governments and public institutions that have banned TikTok – either temporarily or indefinitely – either because of security or morality fears.

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