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From KPIs to KOLs: Regulating social media and influencers within Vietnam

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The recent Facebook livestream by Nguyen Phuong Hang, which lasted for over three hours, vocally criticised, and called-out online celebrities for their dysfunctional behaviour, signifies a new era for social media and influencers within the country. As a key opinion leader (KOL) herself, Nguyen Phuong Hang has the capacity to swing public opinion, triggering a key regulatory moment for the Vietnamese government. As an already regulatory-tight country, Vietnam faces a paradoxical social media regulation moment: significant investment in its digital media future, while maintaining a consistent political line. As a result of this Facebook livestream, the Vietnamese government are looking to pressure KOLs and online influencers by increasing control over livestreaming: any social media account that has more than 10,000 followers must provide their contact information to the authorities. Social media platforms will be asked to remove content that has been flagged as problematic by government officials, highlighting Vietnam’s position on regulating foreign social media platforms, not only YouTube or Facebook specifically. This research draws on algorithmic visibility literature to examine the current state of regulation for Vietnamese social media users with a specific focus on KOLs. Drawing on several recent case studies, we highlight the current state of social media regulation in Vietnam, while also extrapolating the tension the country faces as it invests in and develops its digital and creative industries.

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From KPIs to KOLs: Regulating social media and influencers within Vietnam

  1. 1. From KPIs to KOLs: Regulating social media and influencers within Vietnam VIET THO LE, EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY JONATHON HUTCHINSON, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
  2. 2. We acknowledge the tradition of custodianship and law of the Country on which the University of Sydney campuses stand. We pay our respects to those who have cared and continue to care for Country.
  3. 3. Background on Vietnamese Regulation Unique environment that blends government line alongside free speech and culture Amnesty International have claimed ‘human rights’ issue for communication environment Evidence of government working with social media platforms for specific outcomes ‘Lifestyle’ content is almost encouraged Thriving social media markets
  4. 4. Nguyen Phuong Hang live-streams on her Facebook page, May 25, 2021
  5. 5. Impact of the livestream • Influential Vietnamese social media calling out celebrity culture in country • Regulatory moment (turn?) – increased pressure on Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to be scrutinized
  6. 6. The broader picture… • A unique environment within the current platform governance space • Potential deplatformization (van Dijck et al.) scenario for Vietnam • How will this case study evolve and inform a global social media regulatory space.
  7. 7. Thank you

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