Vietnam’s Social Media – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

What started off as an exploration into the Thien Am Ben Bo Vu Tru temple, has exposed light on a disturbing facet of Vietnam’s social media.  As a a vietnamese ex-pat, living in America, the differences between the motivations of Vietnam’s YouTubers, and American YouTubers are night and day.  While working on this story, I had to delve into several cultural, social, and geo-political differences that drive vietnamese youtubers, and american youtubers.

Vietnamese YouTubers – If you spend any amount of time watching the vietnames youtubers who associate themselves with TABBVT, (either in support or opposition of the temple), you will find that most of them claim to be “telling the truth”. After researching these channels, anyone with an IQ above 10 can see that 99% of what they are saying is speculation.  In other words… fake news.  They base their content on comments in their live chat feeds, or by analyzing the content of their competitors videos.  They will also base their content on the gossip of their followers who either call in while the influencer is live, or by showing screen shots of Zalo chats of their followers.

As an investigative journalist, we are led by facts.  We have to do our due dilligence and research.  If we published articles based on fake news, we would no longer be able to operate as an independent media organization.!  

Vietnamese YouTubers and Followers – As the popularity of  YouTube increased, so did the advent of Vietnamese Youtubers.  Vietnamese YouTubers soon realized that a youtube channel without followers is an endeavor that will not make money.  In order to make money off youtube, you need followers, otherwise you’re live streaming, or creating videos for nobody, which in turn is just a waste of time.  By capitalizing on a crisis, (whatever the crisis regardless of how big or small), these YouTubers found a way to monetize their channel.  TABBVT is a perfect example of this.  This story touches on every aspect of human emotion.  This in turn creates a following of the YouTube influencer, because the audience feels connected to the story.  Anyone with a soul, could not help but to feel sorry and angered by what happend to the followers of TABBVT.  I have linked the story below. These YouTubers, then started asking for donations to help the temple.  The problem is that only a small amount of these donations ever made it to the temple practitioners, or worst… not at all. But you have to remember, that these YouTuber’s are not creating videos because of the injustice, or their deep sense of caring.  Most do it to get “clicks” which in turn, gets them a youtube paycheck. 

Vietnam YouTubers and The Government – YouTuber’s in Vietnam have to walk a very thin line to stay on the good side of the Vietnamese government.  Many vietnamese journalists and YouTuber’s have been imprisoned by the vietnamese government for speaking out against human rights violations.  The vietnamese YouTubers know this.  This is why in the case of TABBVT, YouTuber’s in vietnam started opposing american youtuber’s like Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh.  To the vietnamese government, YouTubers like  Toán Trần appear to be pro-government for calling out people like Quỳnh.  

It’s Always About The Money – If you listen to any vietnamese youtuber, you soon realize the 99.9% of the discussions are always about money.  It’s about who donated to who or who ripped off who, or this is a scam, or I was scammed.  If they can convince their audience that giving their money to someone else is a scam, then they can convince that same audience to give to them instead.  The biggest issue is that these youtuber’s will say that everyone else is a scam without any proof.  They will say “look how I help the blind people… you can trust me!”.  This statement has two objectives.  One, it basically tells this youtuber’s audience “I am a good person! See how I help the blind people?”. And secondly, it says, “because I’m a good person you should trust me and believe everything I say”.   It also creates the illusion of helping the people of vietnam in the eyes of the government. 

Love is Blind – Once these YouTuber’s have created that connection between themself and the “cause”, it creates followers who basically worship these influencers.   The audience members should understand that for a vietnamese youtuber, it will ALWAYS be about the money.   They spread their fake news using their dual $800.00 iPhone 15’s, wiresless microphones, ipads, and laptops.  This is not a cheap endeavor.  If any of these youtuber’s tell you that they run their channel as a gesture of goodwill to the vietnamese community, you should take this with a grain of salt.

Conclusion – The Vietnamese YouTube community is a mixed bag of “the good, the bad, and the ugly”.  Trying to get at the true motivation and reasoning behind what an influencer does will always be filled with controversy.  But until the vietnamese government addresses several issues including the freedoms that Americans enjoy, it could find itself cutoff from the rest of the world which is exactly what China is facing.   All communist regimes are facing this crisis, including China, North Korea, Russia, Cuba, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam.  The more governments clamp down, the more isolated they become.  For Vietnam, it’s economic growth should be a wakeup call to the Vietnamese government, because the faster a nation can rise, that faster it can fall.  Let’s hope that the vietnamese government does not follow in the footsteps of China, and that is uses China as a history lesson.

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