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People of Lao Find Social Media For News Most Trustworthy

The number of the country’s social media users is now projected to reach 2.7 million or 39 percent of the population this year, according to the report.

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social media
“The stories broadcast on TV aren’t clear, and are screened ahead of time by the authorities,” the man said, adding, “The internet is not restricted, and the authorities can’t control the information we find on it.” Pixabay

Lao residents are increasingly abandoning state-controlled news sources and turning more to the internet and social media to get news they can trust, sources in the communist Southeast Asian country say.

Facebook and the internet also provide news more quickly and feature live videos, a young woman living in Xayaburi province in the country’s north told RFA’s Lao Service on April 23.

“Lao TV just reads the news and doesn’t show the real thing,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

social media

“Increasingly aware of the restrictions imposed on the official media, Laotians are turning to the Internet and social media,” RSF said in its report. 
Pixabay

“For example, when there was a flood in Attapeu province, social media very quickly reported the number of deaths,” the young woman said. “But the Lao government was not really open about any of this,” she said.

Also speaking to RFA, a man in Savannakhet province in the south of Laos said he now reads Facebook to get news not previously screened by authorities.

“[Lao] TV provides only restricted news and information, for example news about drug trafficking and other news about the country,” the man said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

“The stories broadcast on TV aren’t clear, and are screened ahead of time by the authorities,” the man said, adding, “The internet is not restricted, and the authorities can’t control the information we find on it.”

Both sources told RFA that they frequently check their smart phones when looking for news and other updated information whenever they can get a clear signal, looking also at the social media platforms Line, WhatsApp, and WeChat.

‘Absolute control’

In an annual report released earlier this month, Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) gave Laos a ranking of 171, close to the bottom of a 180-country survey of press freedoms worldwide, saying that the country’s ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) “exercises absolute control over the media.”

“Increasingly aware of the restrictions imposed on the official media, Laotians are turning to the Internet and social media,” RSF said in its report.

“But use of online news and information platforms is held back by a 2014 decree under which Internet users who criticize the government and the Marxist-Leninist LPRP can be jailed,” the press freedoms group said.

News
“Lao TV just reads the news and doesn’t show the real thing,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Pixabay

Speaking to RFA, a Lao government official dismissed the RSF report, saying, “We have a socialist media, and we serve a socialist regime, the Party and the government.  I don’t believe in their ranking.”

“Our government doesn’t force us to do anything,” he said. “For example, if the government tells us not to publish a story, we simply don’t do it.”

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The number of people using social media in Laos is expected to surge this year, as telecom operators compete with each other to offer better services, a report released at the beginning of April by the state-controlled Lao National Internet Centre shows.

The number of the country’s social media users is now projected to reach 2.7 million or 39 percent of the population this year, according to the report. (RFA)

Next Story

Tech Giant Huawei To Get Role in UK 5G Network Usage But With Restrictions

Huawei is reassured by the UK government's confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G rollout on track

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Huawei
Huawei will also be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites, the BBC reported. Pixabay

The UK has decided to let China’s Huawei continue to be used in its 5G networks but with restrictions, including banning its equipment in the network’s “sensitive parts”, like the core, and capping the presence of its kit in the network’s periphery to 35 per cent, reports said.

Huawei will also be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites, the BBC reported.

The decision by the Boris Johnson government came despite pressure from the US and a section of Conservative MPs on grounds of national security. While a Trump administration official said the US “is disappointed” with the decision, Republican and former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, described it as a “strategic defeat” for his country.

On the other hand, China had warned Britain that there could be “substantial” repercussions to other trade and investment plans had the company been banned outright.

Huawei welcomed the decision.

Huawei
The UK has decided to let China’s Huawei continue to be used in its 5G networks but with restrictions, including banning its equipment in the network’s “sensitive parts”, like the core, and capping the presence of its kit in the network’s periphery to 35 per cent, reports said. Wikimedia Commons

Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G rollout on track.

ALSO READ: Apple To Unveil Smart Speaker “HomePod” in India For Rs 19,900

“It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market,” the firm’s UK chief Victor Zhang said in a statement. (IANS)