“The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” Steffen Seibert, spokesperson for Angela Merkel, said at a press conference on Monday, adding that Merkel had considered Trump’s Twitter ban “problematic”.
The German Chancellor is far from being the only person who has raised the alarm on the US President’s suspension from the social media platform. Other prominent political figures, ranging from Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, have expressed their concerns regarding the ban. I firmly stand with their concerns, and if you use social media, then you should too.
President Trump’s account, with more than 88 million followers, has been locked by Twitter. Photo: Reuters
Take Germany for example. Despite hailing free speech as one of its bastions of freedom, Germany has remained relatively strict on which type of content is allowed to exist on social media platforms used by its citizens, owing to its history. If German public authorities detect provocative behavior on social media, such as hate speech or references to Nazism, social media companies are required to remove such content from their platforms, and face a fine of over $60 million for failing to comply. However, Seibert said in the same press conference that the general behavior of social media companies, including their ability to restrict and censor content on their platforms, is “under the legal framework decided by legislators, not by those who run the company”.
Whether or not one agrees about President Trump’s conduct on social media, the fact that Twitter, Facebook and other platforms were able to decide on their own to strip away the US President’s main channel of communication by either restricting (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram) or outright banning his presence (Twitter) is something that not only Americans but also most governments and everyone around the world who uses social media should worry about.
Despite having been in our social lives for less than two decades (Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006), social media platforms have rapidly transformed into a global phenomenon where they now serve as the primary medium of communication for billions of people. Once relatively harmless “public squares” where users can easily interact with one another, social media networks have grown into formidable platforms, giving their creators unprecedented supranational power – not just by gathering personal information and collecting trends and being able to sell this information for billions of dollars, but also by dominating, if not directly influencing, social trends through the power of advertisements and information selection. In many cases, this has become a significant matter in national politics for many countries.
When Twitter first labelled Trump’s false claims about election fraud with a warning for the first time on May 26, ,2020, this was not the first time that Twitter executives publicly expressed their views through political interference. The social media platform, as well as Facebook, has been used by various political groups to rally the public and spread its messages, from the Austrian student protests and the Gaza disputes in 2009 to G20 protests in Toronto and the Arab Spring in 2011. Here, however, the attitude displayed by Twitter with these examples is nowhere similar to what transpired with Trump recently, which resembled more of the 2019-2020 protests in Hong Kong – where the platform swiftly removed over 1,000 accounts perceived as being associated with Mainland China – or in June 2020 in Turkey – where over 7,000 accounts believed to be managed by Turkish authorities as a way to facilitate support for President Recep Erdogan were taken down. I will not argue whether these examples are right or wrong, but they do provide a sound comparison.
But perhaps, what happened in America may be the clearest example of how regulators on social media platforms can significantly interfere in politics. Facebook and Twitter executives are known to be pro-Democrat, which was shown after the New York Post published a report on Hunter Biden last October. The same executives at Facebook and Twitter ordered their platforms to suppress information on the report. Facebook deliberately slowed down the spread of information on its platform, while Twitter blocked users from being able to share the report, citing “this article contains stolen information”. Several weeks later, users could again share the New York Post article with no restrictions after Twitter and Facebook executives were ordered to appear at a hearing in the US Senate, which was requested by a number of Republicans. It may have been too late, however, as tens of millions of Americans had already cast their ballots, and the “October surprise” of the Republicans failed to reach many voters. Many conservative politicians and pundits have accused such social media regulators as “interfering in the election”, but it’s likely we will never know who is right here.
The climax of the engagement was probably when all mainstream social media networks “joined forces” to shut down Trump’s accounts after the Capitol riots, which first alarmed the Mexican president before becoming a matter of concern for the German chancellor, who definitely won’t be the last person to view the behavior of social media executives and Big Tech as problematic. Many may perceive that we cannot continue allowing social media networks to act as self-proclaimed courts for deciding what information is allowed on their platforms, but that there needs to be firm regulations that place these companies within the legal frameworks of where they operate.
If you have ever been interested in or have read the agreements set out by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to which you had to agree in order to use their services, you may have noticed a big problem – the rules are not based on, or bound by, the laws of any particular country. Any agreement, especially those that may have legal status such as here, needs to be assessed within the specific framework of the legal system governing those agreements. In the case of these terms of services made by social media networks, there is no such system. No such provisions are offered to the users. This means that all behavior, rights and obligations of users on social media will be reviewed and adjudicated by those who run these platforms. It is difficult to imagine the existence of such a social contract, but they exist for every one of the billions of people who use these platforms. Civil society is similar in a civilized society, where one party is both a signatory and a judge of right and wrong in an engagement.
And, of course, therefore, it is almost impossible for users to take any sort of meaningful legal action towards these companies, especially for users outside the United States, where all user complaints are addressed either through automated computer systems or by those in Silicon Valley. Most public authorities in countries where these networks are used also hardly have any viable tool to hold these companies liable if the interests of their citizens are violated — for example, when their accounts are hacked into or stolen.
On the other hand, many still think that social media networks do possess the rights to filter information, as they provide their services to users for free. This possibly comes from the fact that, to attract users, social networks hardly force users to submit any monetary fees. However, they collect your personal information, your habits, even your friends, and use that information to make a profit. And so, perhaps, to say that these companies provide an entirely free service to users is rather incorrect. Even in that case, they should always have certain obligations to users, governed by the laws of each country.
It is also not advisable to continue associating the idea of “statelessness” to Big Tech and social network platforms, for it is these same companies that apply their idea of “state-boundedness” very well when faced with tax issues in the United States, where they use the nationality of their subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands or Singapore to fix their issues. Social network companies only reject the idea of being bound to particular states if it otherwise forces them to be obliged to users, to citizens of particular countries.
With Silicon Valley social media executives being directly involved in American politics with their personal political views, they have the power to interfere, and have successfully interfered, with elections and the flow of information as we have seen this past year in the United States, as well as in many other countries. It may be time to put forward the question on the necessity to build comprehensive legal frameworks that will prevent these social media companies from acting outside, standing above the law.
Pham Quang Vinh
Rikkeisoft to invest up to $30 million in U.S. by 2026
This substantial investment will support technological human resource development, infrastructure expansion, and well-planned mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Tung Bui, Senior Executive Vice President of Rikkeisoft and CEO of RKTech (Rikkeisoft’s US subsidiary), made the pledge on September 18 (US time) during the Viet Nam and United States Business Forum – Technology and Innovation Cooperation in San Francisco. This was proclaimed in the presence of Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and both nations’ representatives.
Mr. Tung Bui claimed that RKTech will invest $10 million to $30 million over the next three years in M&A initiatives, new office expansion, and technological human resource development. The investment for 2023 is planned at $2 million and is anticipated to grow to $30 million by 2026.
This huge investment is expected to produce hundreds of technology-focused employment opportunities in the United States, driving Rikkeisoft into the ranks of billion-dollar technology corporations within the next five years.
Rikkeisoft founded RKTech in Dallas in early 2023 to deliver high-quality and comprehensive information technology solutions and services to American organizations.
RKTech has already seen early success in developing its network of US partners and forging technological partnerships in a variety of industries, including automotive and manufacturing.
The CEO of RKTech focused on the investment’s multifaceted impact and the distinct advantage that a Vietnamese technology business may provide to the United States. “This investment is more than just a cash injection. “It’s a solution to the country’s critical talent shortage in the tech industry,” he added.
“With Vietnam’s burgeoning high-skilled and low-cost tech talent, we are uniquely positioned to provide value-added services to US clients.” Rikkeisoft’s ambition isn’t merely to go public by 2028. Its goal is to substantially enrich the American IT environment by delivering a long-term solution to talent scarcity,” he continued.
Mr.Tung Ta, Chairman of Rikekisoft, stated that Rikkeisoft sees the US market as a strategic investment. “The company aspires to be a global technology services firm with a $1 billion market capitalization.” As a result, a large market like the United States may considerably help Rikkeisoft achieve this aim,” he said.
Rikkeisoft is aggressively studying and developing AI solutions for facial and speech identification in high-tech applications to improve productivity for organizations in industries like as human resources, finance, and banking. Rikkeisoft’s subsidiary, Rikkei Academy, is developing in human resource training to educate students hoping to become Vietnamese information technology engineers.
Rikkeisoft is dedicated to establishing high-impact, far-reaching collaboration initiatives. Establishing RKTech and making long-term investments in the US market would be critical in assisting Rikkeisoft in meeting its IPO aim of 2028.
Rikkeisoft, founded in 2012, is the largest private technology business in Vietnam, focusing in assisting customers with digitization and creative solutions in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Rikkeisoft has helped its clients and partners update their technical processes, build and deploy new software solutions, and accelerate their digital transformation throughout the course of its 11-year history.
Vietnam’s VNG delays Nasdaq IPO amid challenging market
The app maker, which has more chat users than Facebook in Vietnam, “has every intention” of eventually completing an initial public offering in the U.S., a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia. It filed for an IPO a week after the debut of Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast, which like other newly listed companies has seen volatile trading in its first weeks on the market.
“Market conditions are still very challenging,” the source said.
VNG declined to comment when contacted by Nikkei Asia.
VNG was one of several businesses cited by the White House this month as an example of Vietnamese companies tapping “U.S. capital markets to fuel growth and innovation.”
With divisions in payments, cloud computing and music, it would be one of the few Vietnamese companies to sell stock overseas and is thus seen as a test case of investor appetite for firms in the region, as well as of regulatory scrutiny.
“Elements of our corporate structure are unprecedented and have not been tested in any court in Vietnam or elsewhere,” the company previously said in a securities filing.
The filing said it would list a Cayman Islands holding company that has a stake in VNG Corp. of 49% — Vietnam’s foreign-ownership limit for certain sectors — plus a 21% indirect interest.
Source: Nikkei Asia
Apple, Boeing, and Google encouraged to invest more in Vietnam
He hailed the successful operation of Apple in Vietnam at the meeting with Nick Ammann, Director of Apple Global Government Operations. Apple’s export value in Vietnam reached around $30 billion in 2022.
He suggested that Apple keep putting more money into Vietnam, increase the amount of local content in its products, and help U.S. companies and Apple’s partners invest in the Southeast Asian country. He also thought that Apple would make Vietnam an important part of its line of production and supply.
During a reception for Brendan Nelson AO, the senior vice president of Boeing Company and president of Boeing Global, Pham urged Boeing to expand its manufacturing and supply chain in Vietnam and soon build its maintenance facility there.
The Prime Minister also used the event to ask Boeing to help Vietnamese partners with training their employees and sharing technology so that they can play a bigger role in Boeing’s supply chain.
Pham called upon Google to support Vietnam’s national innovation center and provide digital transformation training for Vietnamese firms while receiving Karan Bhatia, the Vice President, of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google.
He also voiced his support for Google to expand operations in Vietnam.
On the same day, Prime Minister Pham witnessed the exchange of investment agreements between firms of the two countries in industrial park development, green growth, production and distribution of pharmaceuticals, and human resources training in semiconductors.
Banking industry forecast to grow slower on economic slowdown
Rikkeisoft to invest up to $30 million in U.S. by 2026
Legal changes expected to increase appeal of Vietnam’s real estate market
Vietnam’s VinFast to deliver EVs to Europe this year as EU probes China rivals
Over $380mn needed to upgrade 3 highways linking Vietnam with Laos, China
Ninh Thuan reports 7.4% increase in seafood catch in H1
Digital assets raise unprecedented issues for policymaking
Japan supports Vietnam to enhance laboratory capacity for agricultural, fisheries product testing
Vietnamese cartoon producer cries for help as YouTube removes 3,000 videos
17 billion USD needed to build railway connecting to seaports
First Vietnamese representative at a Winter Olympic
Da Nang museums attracting domestic visitors with free entry policy
Nom, nom, Việt Nam – Episode 76: Fried cheese sticks
In Sa Pa, ethnic children forced to peddle on streets in bitterly cold night
Nom, nom, Việt Nam – Episode 74: Huế beef noodle soup
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