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Thursday, June 21, 2018, 10:40 (GMT+7)
The fight against falsified and reactionary notions on the Internet today

In the age of information today, cyber space is being exploited by domestic and foreign adversary forces to spread falsified and reactionary notions and to sabotage our Doi Moi process, our Party’s credibility and our socialist state. Therefore, exposing and defeating this sinister strategy is a crucial and impending task.

Access to the Internet in Vietnam

Despite being late in accessing the Internet compared to many other countries, the development of Internet in Vietnam has enjoyed many significant breakthroughs. By 2017, 53% (50.05 million people) of the population had Internet access, 6% higher than 2016, and about 46 million Vietnamese people (48% of the population) used social networks. Also, there were about 125 million mobile users; in which over 41 million people used mobile devices to access the Internet on regular basis. That said, Internet has increasingly played an important role in Vietnamese daily living, thanks to the huge amount of information it contains and the convenience in accessing it.

According to Online Mobile and Social Networks in Vietnam 2015 Report by Cimigo, the main reasons for using social networks of Vietnamese people are: communication (38%), saving and updating information with friends (21%), making new friends (13%), etc. Notably, political news has great influence on the society and Internet users, especially those living in densely populated cities.

The main causes leading to this fact are: First, political news always has utmost importance in Vietnamese society due to the traditional interest of the people in socio-political issues. Also, information about the country’s situation and national condition has direct connection to the daily living of every member of the society. Second, nowadays information, especially political information, is broadcasted via many channels such as: regular conversations, social networks, or published documents, etc. so that its reach becomes more and more extensive in the society. Third, political news on the Internet exists and stored as an open source, accessible for every people all over the world. It is naturally “free” and easy to be manipulated, so that besides formal information, falsified notions on the Internet can be spread quickly and widely among many people. This is a downside of the Internet; therefore the network can also be a handy tool for adversary forces to employ to sabotage our Party and State. In fact, in the past few years, reactionary groups have dispersed a lot of misinformation and fake news to distort the Party’s ideology and socialist regime, discredit senior officials of the Party and the State, and create confusion and distrust among the population, especially students, intellectuals, and young people – those who regularly access the Internet.

Enhance people’s awareness and the Party’s leadership to defeat falsified notions on the Internet

This impending task aims to defeat sabotaging attempts by adversary forces and plays an important role in promoting Vietnam’s image on global scale, creating correct understanding about the country for international community, thus setting favorable condition for Vietnam to push ahead international integration. That said, every branch and organization of the government must recognize that this is a complicated, intensive and prolonged fight and they must combine internal protection actions with preventive measures against external threats. Internal protection includes maintaining our political stability and socialist goals; enhancing national unity; and upholding and promoting national identity. Besides, in this extensive fight, we must strengthen the revolutionary nature of the working class, reaffirm the righteousness of our socialist cause; commit to eliminate all signs of opportunism, revisionism, dogmatism, conservatism, and all types of fraud and corruption in every branch and organization of the State and the Party. In addition, our economic power must be strengthened, our socialist principles must be preserved, and our international cooperation must be combined with the enhancement of our nation’s self-determination and national security.

Always stay alert to prevent and defeat any falsified and adversary notions on the Internet

In the modern era, it is impossible to prohibit citizens from accessing information on the Internet. That said, there must be optimized measures to minimize access to malicious information sources and their impacts on our citizens.

To this end, there are several issues that need to be focused on: 1. Constantly improve awareness in every aspect for citizens, especially government officials, Party members, students, etc., thus enhancing their political understanding and showing them the right approaches to study and evaluate political information. 2. Always stay alert and committed to defeat wrongful and mistaken perspective toward the Party’s lines and the State’s policies. 3. Each citizen must enhance their self-awareness, self-discipline when they are accessing online information; strictly comply with regulations and laws about information rights and actively participate in the fight against fake news and misinformation. 4. Responsible government branches and organizations must implement information classification to appropriately adjust anti-misinformation measures for better outcomes. That said, with regard to reactionary news broadcasted on foreign websites, which is very hard for us to control, there are several methods to deal with it: First, strictly monitor the sources where those pieces of information came from and apply intercept measures if necessary. Second, develop “immunity” against reactionary information for netizens, official news must be constantly promoted and updated to satisfy the right and the need for access to information in accordance to 2013 Constitution and Information Access Law 2016. With respect to domestic information intentionally provided and information from domestic media outlets, these types of information must be broadcasted strictly in compliance with regulations on confidentiality and journalism practices. 5. Responsible government branches and organizations must closely observe the response of international community on Vietnam’s economic and political situation, foreign policy, etc.; and reactionary forces’ stratagem, sabotaging attempts, etc., to advise the Party and the government in fighting against falsified notions, especially in sensitive issues such as: human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. We should also increase cultural-information cooperation with other countries but still need to maintain our initiative. Besides, in defending our national sovereignty and security, we should avoid causing negative impacts on our relations with other countries if possible.

Increase activities of the press and media on the Internet

Nowadays, the Internet has become a very useful and efficient tool for media outlets in promoting and providing information about our Party’s resolutions for the people. Therefore, the press and media must lead the charge in the fight against falsified and reactionary notions on the Internet. Via the network, media outlets must actively reaffirm the indisputable values of Marxism – Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, and Vietnam’s righteous socialist revolutionary cause. Needless to say, our Party’s leadership role is the prerequisite to materializing the goals of “Prosperous people, strong nation, democracy, equality and civilized society”. It is also necessary to clarify the scientific grounds of our Party’s line, the State’s policies and law, and our socialist political system. Besides, media outlets should also actively broadcast news about our achievements as well as problems, and experience during the course of Doi Moi and international integration.

In the current Doi Moi process, adversary forces are fiercely criticizing our socialist-oriented market economy policy and calling for unchecked market liberalization and industry privatization to undermine the State’s control and gradually make our economy dependent on foreign capitalists. Therefore, the press and media must be diverse, extensive and up-to-date information sources to provide support for the State’s socio-economic management and contribute to preserving and upholding our culture and traditions, creating strong momentum for the country’s economic development and international integration.

In this fight on the Internet, each journalist must become a “soldier” with strong political belief and commitment to protect our national interests and the process of Doi Moi and international integration. At the same time, the success of the fight against falsified and reactionary notions on the Internet also depends on the professional capability of online journalists. This should be proven by many online articles that exposed the nature and malicious stratagem of reactionary forces, greatly contributing to our work of expanding multilateral diplomatic relations and international cooperation. To do this, each journalist must constantly enhance their political awareness and professional capabilities. First and foremost, they must fully grasp Marxism – Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, the Party’s line and the State’s policies and laws. The news they deliver on the Internet, websites or blogs must be truthful and objective; their approaches to every event or issue must be chosen out of consideration for the long-term interest of the nation, and they must also be constructive, exposing frauds and negative issues to deal with them and promoting positive news to further develop it.

In long term, the State should develop a diverse, extensive and robust media system, capable of fulfilling any positive information need of the people and participating in international cooperation. It must also be able to receive, process and relay a large flow of international news, and strong enough to raise our rightful voice on global scale to protect our economic interests, political principles and national values. That said, we must further invest on infrastructure and technology for the press and media, enabling them to effectively employ all types of journalism activities, especially online media. Online media outlets must constantly improve their quality to attract more and more viewers. They must focus on renovation programs to create more communication channels; for example: develop mobile user interface to ease the access for the majority of netizens, especially young people. On the other hand, they must have their own technical measures to ban fake news and misinformation outlets on the Internet and mobile networks to minimize their negative impacts on the people.

Fighting against falsified and reactionary notions on the Internet is a critical and permanent task for each government official, Party member and the entire political system, and requires comprehensive and systematic measures. If the measures mentioned above are implemented effectively, they will greatly contribute to the success of the work of preventing and defeating distorted notions, and protect our Party’s ideology and principles and our socialist revolutionary cause.

Dr. Nguyen Chi Thao, Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy

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