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Social media and management and development solutions

(LLCT) - The appearance of social media has created a lot of opportunities and benefits for transferring, receiving, and sharing information and knowledge to serve the diverse needs of the community. However, with an extremely fast and uncontrollable information spreading mechanism, social media has been causing numerous negative effects on social life, especially in the culture of behavior and speech on social networks. On the basis of analyzing the positive and negative impacts of social media, this article proposes groups of solution to the subjects such as individuals, organizations joining social networks, subjects of managing and improving the law basis, providers of the social media services and media managing units, etc. to limit the negative influence of social media as well as create favorable conditions for social media to develop in the right orientation and conform with national culture.

Keywords: social media.

1. Concept of social media

The concept of social media came into existence some decades ago with the appearance of the Internet and the BBS message system (Bulletin Board System)(1). However, when the Web 2.0 platform came to life, technology that helped users build the content by themselves and connect with each other, the era of social media really exploded. The current social media concept today is understood to be the platforms provided for Internet users on the Web 2.0 technology.

In their article in the Business Horizons Magazine, authors Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein defined social media as the “Internet applications built on the technological and ideal platform of Web 2.0 to facilitate the information creation and exchange of users”(2).

According to the official definition by the Ministry of Information and Communications, social media means “an information system to provide the network user community with services for storing, supplying, using, searching, sharing, and exchanging information with each other, including services to create personal electronic information pages and forums, chat online, and share sound and images and other similar forms of service”(3).

Thus, social media means the technologies which interact and facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, and other expression forms through communities on the Internet through the Internet on Internet-accessing devices. Social media has certain features including:

(1) Applications are based on the Internet for interaction.

(2) The content is created by users, i.e. the posts or comments, images, and videos through all the online interactions are lines of social media.

(3) The users create the profile on the website or the application designed and maintained by social media organizations.

Social media facilitates the development of online social networks by connecting the user profile with other individuals or groups on the basis of mutual interaction.

Users often access social media services through web-based technology on computers (personal computer or laptop) or through applications on smart phones and tablet computers. When users participate in these electronic services, they are connected with each other on highly interactive platforms, from which individuals, communities, and organizations can share, co-create, discuss, and edit the content created by users or the already-created content posted online.

Social media is different from paper media (such as magazines and newspapers) and traditional electronic media such as television, etc. in various ways, including quality, scope, frequency, interactivity, usability, directness, and efficiency. Social media works in a dialog transmission system (many sources to many targets). This is opposite to traditional media that operates in the single logic transferring model (one source to various targets); for example, a newspaper is sent to different subscribers and the radio broadcasts the same program for the whole city. Some of the most popular social media web pages with more than 100 million registered users are Facebook (and associated Facebook Messenger), YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype, Qzone, WeChat, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Google Plus, Go.vn, and Baidu Tieba, among others.

There is a slight difference between social media and social networks in the concept connotation. In terms of technological nature, these two concepts show the same entity: websites based on the Web 2.0 platform to help users create and transfer information. However, the term social media has a greater meaning, including the means and content of communication, while social networks stress more on the technological platform from which it is created(4). In this article these two terms are used interchangeably.

2. Influence of social media in Vietnam

According to the data of the Ministry of Information and Communications, Vietnam has a population of approximately 95 million people (ranking the 15th in the world, more than 60% of which use the Internet) and ranks the 16th nation in the world in terms of Internet users. A notable statistic is that the average time spent using the Internet by Vietnamese people is up to nearly 7 hours/day(5). This proves that the Vietnamese spend a considerable amount of time ononline activities for different needs. The popular social networks in Vietnam today are Facebook and Zalo. Facebook is still the most frequently used social network by the Vietnamese. According to statistics, in April 2018, there were 58 million Vietnamese Facebook users, ranking Vietnam among the 7 countries with most Facebook users in the world. There are 40 million people using Zalo every month. This is a considerable number when the total number of Zalo users accounts for a half of the population and nearly 70% of Facebook users(6). With the number of participants in the social network as listed above, the Vietnamese netizen community has formed a really strong and wide network society. With the assistance of the Internet and technological platforms, the members in that network create a tremendous amount of information and spread the amount of information amongst each other. Technological platforms help share the links and information among individuals more easily. A piece of interesting information can be spread very quickly and transferred through social networks extremely fast, from the community of one individual to that of the other individual. For example, the news page vnexpress.net has about 2 million likes on Facebook, which means that any articles posted on this page can be accessed by nearly two million people. Theoretically, the number of readers can increase exponentially when some of the 2 million people share the link with their community. With an uncontrollable and extremely fast information spreading mechanism and the statistics of social network users, we can partly imagine the influences of social media to all aspects of life.

Positive influence

Through the Internet, information on social network is collected and dispersed widely and quickly across the globe. Not being governed by the factors of time, space, border, ethnic group, religion, career or education level, those who join a social network can easily make acquaintances and friends, and interact with each other on social network wherever they are, forming a wide relationship network which can supplement traditional forms of communication like speaking face to face (for example, the social network Twitter has 320 new additional accounts registered, and more than 98,000 messages are shared every minute)(7). Thanks to that, each individual or group is not limited to social relationships of the same tribe, residential community, country, or territory; in contrast, social relationships are expanded beyond the limits of geography, ethnic group, religion, etc. Social media with the support of the Internet has made important contributions to transforming humans around the world into members of a great family, removing the limits of space, and creating a flat world where everyone contact with each other through social networks. With that preeminent utility, social media has been helping create wide relationships for various members in different communities to join.

By connecting members of the same habit on the Internet with different goals regardless of space and time, everyone, especially youth, can improve their understanding of the world; access mankind’s knowledge; have the opportunity to participate in forums to exchange; share experiences and useful knowledge about life and work; and improve the chance to approach the information about the programs and projects of the Party, State, and socio-economic organizations, such as job training, volunteering, youth career movements, youth participation in building new rural areas, and youth participation in gratitude activities. Accordingly, they have the chance to promote their ability and strong capacity, look towards a useful and healthy life, gradually improve personality, train their skills, and forster ideals.

As for economic benefit, the social network system is of great help for many enterprises, organizations, and individuals who run businesses or trade. Traditional marketing means such as radio broadcasting and advertising on television and in newspapers are out of date and cost a lot of money. However, with social media, the enterprises can connect with customers and targets freely, and they only spend money on electricity and time. Through Facebook, Zalo, or other social networks, enterprises and organizations as well as individuals running businesses and trading can keep the cost very low for marketing, advertisement, premises lease, and transaction, and they can trade and deal any time of the day. Receiving feedback from customers, business entities can close the order immediately and deliver the goods the following day. That helps increase the time of sales duration and revenue considerably. Online shopping also brings a lot of benefits for customers. Buyers can order anywhere at any time with simple manipulations.

With the increasing coverage of the social network tools, social media is considered the most effective communication method for bloggers, journalists, and content creators. Social networking websites open the opportunity for all writers and bloggers, allowing them to connect with readers having knowledge of technology and share their experiences as well as articles. These readers go on to share the articles, blogs, or experiences on social networks, and then expand the information follower network. With this method, social media makes contribution to building the image and position of individuals and social organizations.

Negative influence

Beside the above utilities, the formation and strong development of social networks have been causing a lot of negative effects on social life. With the uncontrollable and quick information spreading mechanism, social values (including the good, standard, and deviate values), rules, and written and unwritten laws of society have a strong influence on the personal socialization process of the members. Information on social network is very diverse, plentiful, and multi-dimensional, and many issues are sometimes exaggerated without control. The conveyance of information on social networks is easily deviated and inflated, which causes inaccuracy, lack of verification, and easy governance by crowd effect and chain reaction. Posting and sharing information encounters very few obstacles. Together with the desire for fame and attention, a large number of social network users find any means to post shocking information with “sensational” and attractive titles. That is the favorable environment for information, images, and video clips with morality violating content to flourish. Joining violent games or listening to and watching clips with unhealthy content on social networks also seriously influences user morality, especially children. They may be heavily affected by the information on social networking sites if they are allowed to join social networks. Children can be affected by the violent and sensitive content on social networks; watching the videos could lead to negative changes in awareness and behavior.

On social media, the incognito mode and anonymousness of the information source enables users to express more freely compared with face to face communication. With the incognito mode, a speaker on a social network feels that he takes no responsibility for his behavior or speech. The difficulty to control the information on social networks makes lying, bad language, and swearing common, especially among youth, and it has great influence on the formation of the behavioral model and culture that is against habits and customs in real life. In practice, many youth have committed crime or violated the social morality values and standards because they imitated and followed the behaviors of a character or an individual in a certain event spread on a social network. These are the leading risks for negative phenomena and social evils.

Because of the difficulty to control information, anonymousness, and the incognito mode of the social network participants, social media can easily become the means for bad, hostile, and sabotaging forces against our Party and State to cause information disturbances and disorder in society and national security. They spread bad and false information on social network sites to attract and stimulate the network community to join the meetings and demonstrating activities which are not in accordance with law regulations, implement the “peaceful evolution” conspiracy, lie, agitate, scatter unhealthy thoughts, and make people lose trust in the Party and State. Meanwhile, most social network participants are youth who do not have a lot of experience and lack a strong will to filter information, so malicious information that spreads quickly can easily “distort” awareness and have a negative effect on the behavior of youth on cyber space as well as in real life.

3. Solutions promoting positive effects and limiting negative effects of social media

a) Solutions for the social network participants

Firstly, it is necessary to focus on the measure to propagandize for raising knowledge of laws, awareness, and responsibility upon participating in the platforms of social media of all citizens. The electronic news pages and social networks are only the tools for the users. The dark sides of social media only exist when the community is not fully educated. It is necessary to raise and educate the community on the principles when joining social media. In all educational environments – from family, school, and society, especially through mass media and interpersonal media – it is necessary to orientate the values for everyone, especially youth, so that they can avoid misleading manifestations in awareness and behavior. Apart from beautiful feelings, aesthetic images, precious moments of friendship, love, family affection, etc. in life posted on the social networking sites, social network participants must have an awareness of countering the one-sided and wrong information and distorting allegations that cause social disorder or disunity in the national unity bloc.

Secondly, when participating in the network environment, the social network members should spread the good information and images about the social activities and activities for the community, criticize the bad things and deviating manifestation, look towards humanitarian messages, and build a refined and civilized online behavioral culture. Simultaneously, it is important to keep the purity of Vietnamese and use no miscellaneous, vulgar, bad, and violent language. Only the verified information with a clear source is posted and broadcasted. Particularly, netizens are not allowed to set up groups and associations to speak ill or assault each other, post and share information which can offend or cause a loss of prestige and personal honor, and side with any crowd without understanding the case clearly or having no basis. In the process of posting information, netizens should not post fabricated information which affects social order and safety, stimulates violence, discriminates against a specific ethnic group, region, sex, or religion; nor should they share images against the habits and customs of Vietnam and law violating information. It is not advised to use an unknown application to avoid being annoyed by spam or hacked for account information.

Thirdly, netizens should grasp and follow the regulations of Cyber Security Law. On that basis, every netizens should turn his social networking site into a healthy information channel and implement social media in the spirit of responsibility for community, discovery, contributing ideas, criticism, and countering reactionary and malicious information in a timely manner.

Fourthly, upon participating in the social network, individuals must be equipped with skills to protect private information and methods to filter and receive information.  That users improve the “resistance,” equip knowledge of laws and good cultural filters, behave in a civilized and polite manner in discussion and criticism, have a capacity for information, and evaluate the trustworthiness of information on social media is very important. Thus, the exploitation and use of social networks can be effective, practical, and healthy, and users can protect their own values as well as the values of the community and nation.

b) Solutions related to the subjects of managing and improving the law basis

Firstly, continue improving regulations on managing communication activities in networks in general and social networks in particular. Focus on researching to build the Law on managing online information to create the full and suitable legal corridors. Actively build a scientific and advanced law scope for social media to operate and develop in a healthy and proper orientation, making timely supplementation and improving the necessary documents suitable for practice to ensure a clear, transparent, public, and equal legal environment among organizations and individuals when joining social media. Create timely institutionalization of the guidance of the 2018 Cyber Security Law to make contribution to managing social media well.

Secondly, improve and deploy the code of conduct on social networks for service providers and social network users and look to building a healthy and safe network environment in Vietnam. Communicate and popularize the Cyber ##Security Law comprehensive amongst the strata of society and build the punishment measures and sanctions for law-violating citizens. Individuals and organizations need to have legal responsibility for the information posted on social networks or electronic news pages in order to minimize uncultured speeches and behaviors on social networks.

Thirdly, build and improve the documents for implementing the 2016 Press Law effectively, including improvement of the information orientating role of the traditional press agencies, active and positive criticism and reject the bad and malicious information on networks to make contributions to overcoming the dark sides of social media.

c) Solution group related to the social network providers

Firstly, the network providers, service providers, and service exploiters, especially the transborder service providers, must be responsible for following Vietnamese law and respecting the sovereignty, benefit, and national security of Vietnam. The partners must show the cooperation and abidance of the regulations when they come to Vietnam to set up representative agencies, establish the legitimacy of the user in account registration, actively coordinate to remove the pages impersonating the leaders of the Party and State, eliminate the accounts providing false information, etc. It is necessary to have more appreciation for the economic measures and require the enterprises to have a responsibility equal to the benefits that they enjoy.

Secondly, service providers also have to send warnings to customers regularly to avoid impersonators who cause serious damage to the rights of the customers.

d) Solutions for the media management agencies

Firstly, in order to manage well, agencies having the function to manage and supervise media need to quickly improve the legal document system synchronously with specific, clear, realistic, suitable, and up-to-date terms instead of halting at the adjustment principle with recommendations for morality and culture. When the legal ties are not detailed, clear, or strong, it will be hard for moral and cultural principles to come to life.

Secondly, further enhance the works of inspection, examination, and violation settlement, especially the coordination between the involved appropriate agencies. It is important to strictly settle the impersonation acts seriously influencing the individuals and units and conduct criminal settlement of the impersonation acts that seek profit and cheat for properties. Actively implement the Cyber Security Law with strong sanctions to threaten and handle the violations and harm such as storing, providing posting, or spreading fake, false, and distorting news, and slandering, speaking ill, stimulating, or sabotaging the Party and State on the Internet or a social network.

Thirdly, enhance technical measures. The use of technical measures to limit and prevent malicious information that violates national security and sabotages Vietnam is still very necessary in the current context. The units in charge of cyber security need to support the organizations and individuals in time when discovering the “holes” in security and when attacked by IT criminals.

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Endnotes:

(1) Globe, Gordon: “The history of social networking”, Digital Trend Magazine, http://www.digitaltrends.com/ ,dated November 22nd,  2013.

(2) Kaplan, Andreas M., and Michael Haenlein: “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”, Business Horizons Magazine 53.1 (2010): 59-68.

(3) The Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Decree on managing, providing, and using Internet service and online electronic information, Issue: 72/2013/ND-CP.

(4) Nguyen Khac Giang: “The influence of social media on the press environment in Vietnam”, Journal of Science – Vietnam National University, Hanoi, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 31, Issue 1 (2015) 12-19.

(5) “More than 60% of Vietnamese population use the Internet, access 7 hours/day on average”, https://www.24h. com.vn, https://tuyengiao.vn, dated December 6th, 2018.

 (6) “Listing 11 favorite social networks of the Vietnamese”, http://tuyengiao.vn, dated February 11th, 2019.

(7) Nguyen Thi Truong Giang (chief editor): Electronic network newspaper and basic issues, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2014, p.21.

MA. Nguyen Thi Lan

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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