In Viet Nam, UNESCO calls to end fake news and disinformation and highlights the importance of quality media coverage

While the country’s early and robust action since end January 2020 has been widely recognized as effective in preventing a widespread outbreak of COVID-19, daily life has still been transformed by the situation and Vietnamese, like many others, are living out more of their lives online. It is here that the other side of the crisis, the “infodemic”, plays out as elsewhere.
In this regard, Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam, said that “during times of uncertainty, rumour and misinformation can spread quickly and be harmful to response measures and local communities. We encourage people –including journalists– to please make sure any information they pass on has been confirmed by relevant government authorities or WHO. It is critical to strengthen risk communication and to provide clear, timely, evidence-based information to the public. Viet Nam, so far, has been doing very well in this area. We continue to support the country in countering the so-called, ‘infodemic’ of rumours and misinformation.”
While encouraged by the healthy discussion on fake news and disinformation in on line and mass media in the country, Michael Croft, UNESCO Representative to Viet Nam, believes further efforts will be necessary to deepen the understanding of these concepts.  “During this unprecedented pandemic, getting the right information is key and here the work of journalists and media professionals plays a critical role.  It is therefore crucial that they have a solid understanding of the related professional and ethical dimensions to be able to push back against fake news and misinformation.”
Emphasizing that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) resources help the entire society, in especial children and youth, to face and overcome the current challenges, Croft added that “more than ever, access to internet, reliable information and a correct use of digital technologies are essential to fight to COVID-19.”
As the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis continues and taking into account its expertise in Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and Intercultural Dialogue (ID), UNESCO Hanoi will work with Vietnamese youth and journalists and media professionals in order to raise awareness of the fake news issues of the coronavirus and the importance of the inclusion and tolerance to stop the growing cases of discrimination and exclusion.
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