Vietnam News

Vietnam’s telecoms group Viettel reacts to Facebook accusation of disinformation

Vietnam’s telecoms provider Viettel gave an official statement on Friday after Facebook had alleged that the former used commercial disinformation tactics to discredit rivals.

The world’s largest social media platform said on Wednesday that it had banned a network of two dozen fake pages and accounts linked to military-run Viettel and its Myanmar venture Mytel for “violating” its “policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

This marks the first time Facebook has taken action against a corporation for directly using disinformation against competitors.

According to Facebook, those behind the pages created what appeared to be an “independent telecoms news hub,” posing as customers to criticize the company’s telecoms rivals.

“The page admins and account owners typically shared content in English and Burmese about alleged business failures and planned market exit of some service providers in Myanmar, and their alleged fraudulent activity against their customers,” Facebook’s statement reads.

The controversial pages, followed by 265,600 accounts, were tied to about US$1.2m worth of Facebook advertising, the social network company added.

Viettel said in a statement on Friday that as a company with a presence in 11 countries, it always complies with the laws and business ethics in each market.

The company is verifying the allegation and is willing to cooperate with Facebook. 

“Any employee or member of the group, if proven to be involved in such practice, will have to take full responsibility,” said Viettel in its response.

The company added it supports Facebook’s efforts in cleaning up the social network environment and expects the latter to function in a cooperative manner to avoid making unilateral allegations.

Viettel is state-owned and run by the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense. 

Its revenue in 2019 rose 7.5 percent year-on-year to VND251 trillion ($10.78 billion), accounting for 50 percent of Vietnam’s telecoms revenues. 

Viettel launched Mytel in Mymanmar in June 2018 and owns 49 percent of the shares in the venture.

The Vietnamese company has plans to commercially launch 5G services in June using its own equipment.

Tuoi Tre News – February 15, 2020

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