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    Vietnam's Gapo to Challenge Facebook, US Tech Giants Monopolies, Crackdown on 'Fake News’—Reports

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    Facebook, which is currently used by 60m out of the country’s 96m people, will be challenged by Vietnamese tech companies to steer users away from the massive US tech giant.

    Vietnam has unveiled plans to launch multiple social media networks in a bid to break away from platforms such as Facebook, Hanoi-based Gapo Technology said as reported by Nikkei Asia Review on Wednesday. 

    News of the platform’s arrival, which was announced on 23 July, came just a week after Vietnamese minister of information and communications, Nguyen Manh Hung, told a group of IT executives in Ho Chi Minh City on 16 July that he would like to see more homegrown social media networks.

    "It is high time we develop a new social network that is more humanitarian and really values its clients,” Mr Hung said as he called for local IT companies to build platforms to compete with Facebook, local media reported. 

    "We are confident of being able to attract 50 million users by 2021," Gapo CEO Ha Trung Kien added during the platform’s launch event.   

    Three social media networks have been launched since January, including Hahalolo Travel Social Network on 10 June, with two more set to begin in the second half of the year, bringing the total to five platforms.

    Local tech startups will also receive backing from Hanoi's ministry of information and communications, who will issue policies on sandboxing to control and regulate new technological models, Mr Hung said. 

    The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Communication and Education, as well as Viettel Group, Vietnam’s state telecom carrier, co-launched the VCNET social network aimed at “countering false and hostile views”, according to deputy head Nguyen Thanh Long. 

    The ministry of information and communications would support businesses by issuing a policy for sandboxes so that businesses could securely test new technological models in a controlled and secure environment, Hung reiterated.   

    The developments come after Hanoi's new cybersecurity law took effect on 1 January this year, which required all telecom companies operating in Vietnam to store data locally, encouraging homegrown startups to obtain more of the country’s market share.

    Vietnam is also cracking down on Facebook and Google following the new law, with Hanoi demanding two US tech companies to open offices in Vietnam to pay taxes locally and store data in the country, earning the country a total of $371.1m in advertising revenues in 2018. The Ministry also forced Facebook to remove 208 fake accounts, 2,444 unlawful adverts, and over 200 links opposed to the Communist Party of Vietnam, as well as flagging 55,000 YouTube videos as “harmful” or violating Vietnamese law and demanding Google and YouTube 8,000 video, Nikkei Asia Review reported citing local media.

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