International

Vietnam Launches New Social Media App As Facebook Alternative

Vietnam Launches Gapo As Facebook Alternative

Vietnam is introducing a social network similar to Facebook after the Communist-ruled government asked domestic tech companies to create substitutions.

Gapo, which launched on Tuesday (July 23), is a mobile app that allows members to build profiles and share posts, Reuters reported. The social media company has teamed up with Sony Music Entertainment to feature music content, and aims to reach three million users in 2019 and 20 million by January 2021.

Gapo has received 500 billion dong ($21.55 million) in funding from tech corporation G-Group, said Ha Trung Kien, G-Group’s chief executive.

“Vietnamese users and enterprises are relying too much on Facebook, as there are not so many social networks for them to choose from,” Kien said. Other Facebook-type social platforms preceding Gapo – VietnamTa and Hahalolo – have not managed to build membership.

The ruling Communist party in Vietnam does not tolerate dissent and has strict media censorship in Vietnam, leading to new cybersecurity laws in January.

Vietnam said in January that Facebook violated Vietnamese law in how it managed online content, advertising and taxes. Officials further stated that Facebook let people post slanderous content and anti-government sentiment, a violation of the country’s new cybersecurity laws.

The government recently set a goal to cut cash transactions in urban households in half by 2020. Regulations and restrictive rules on e-wallets created by the State Bank of Vietnam are preventing the country from becoming a cashless society. Compliance has also tightened up in the past year, due to a crackdown on illegal gambling mostly paid for with anonymous digital wallet transactions.

The country’s government announced in May that it is planning to make its own mobile money sandbox for companies in the telecom space. The plan, which is pending approval, could allow firms to test services for mobile money that are not connected to the consumers’ bank accounts.

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