Earlier last week, a 21-year-old vietnamese was fined VND25 million (US$1,185) for inventing a story about a deadly shooting in the north-central province of Quang Binh that went viral on Facebook.
The incident took place on February 21. According to Vietnam news site Thanh Nien news, local man Ngo Dinh So wrote on his Facebook page that after a collision between a truck and a Toyota Camry, the car driver shot the other driver and his assistant.
He then fled the scene, leaving his vehicle behind, Son claimed, adding that the killings took place in Dong Hoi Town, the capital city of Quang Binh.
In response to people’s doubts, he posted a photo that he claimed was of the scene and information about the murderer, who he said was from Dong Hoi.
The post was quickly shared and re-posted on Facebook and as the story spread, it set off alarms among the Dong Hoi populace, prompting the police to step in and investigate. Son confessed to them that he had cooked up the story to achieve a minute of fame.
Colonel Hoang Trinh, chief of the Quang Binh police’s Internal Political Security Division, said Son violated laws that prohibit people from running news stories on personal blogs.
Ngo is lucky to catch a break and avoided jail time under the recently passed Decree 72. The decree, which was passed earlier in September last year, made it illegal for social media users to post information gathered from almost all news sources in the name of “national security” and preventing copyright infringement.
“Personal electronic sites are only allowed to put news owned by that person, and are not allowed to ‘quote’, ‘gather’ or summarise information from press organisations or government websites. It’s also illegal to provide on social media “information that is against Vietnam, undermining national security, social order and national unity … or information distorting, slandering and defaming the prestige of organisations, honour and dignity of individuals.”
Blogs or social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter should only be used “to provide and exchange personal information”, according to the decree.