Vietnam announced stricter regulations on social media platforms on 4 November, including the removal of ‘fake news’ within 24 hours and ‘sensitive information’ within three hours. The move follows the implementation of a cybersecurity law in 2019 and national guidelines on social media behavior in 2020.
This is part of a larger trend of tightening control over the internet by increasing online censorship, issuing harsh fines and prison sentences for the supposed misuse of social media, collecting citizens' data and compelling international tech giants to comply with the government's mounting requirements. The government has also attempted to suppress news of the recent protests in China, with videos and news being spread on social media to prevent similar expressions of dissent in Vietnam and to avoid upsetting relations with China.
Vietnam was elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council on 11 October, despite mounting criticism over an increasing crackdown on human rights activists, journalists, and climate advocates over the past year. Four prominent human rights groups issued a joint statement highlighting that since announcing its candidacy in February 2021, 48 persons have been detained or arrested for arbitrary crimes ranging from "abusing democratic freedoms" to "propaganda against the State" to "tax evasion." The statement calls on Vietnam to release arbitrarily detained persons to ensure their rights to freedom of expression and association.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has declared that being LGBTQIA+ is “not an illness” and issued a directive that medical practitioners should not “interfere nor force treatment” on patients. This follows years of campaigning by LGBTQIA+ rights groups and is hailed as a landmark decision in shifting the attitudes towards sexuality.