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Earlier this summer, Viet Fact Check was approached by producers for the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) NewsHour series, Moments of Truth. Produced by the Student Reporting Labs, Moments of Truth is “a digital series exploring misinformation and sharing intergenerational conversations between people about how they find facts, information, and truth.”
In this episode, Viet Fact Check colleagues Nick Nguyen, a co-founder and researcher, and Steph Doan, a long-time volunteer writer, meet in person for the first time to talk about misinformation in the Vietnamese American community.
Topics they discuss include the origins of Viet Fact Check, their personal motivations for combatting misinformation, and the lack of Vietnamese-language news and media geared toward Vietnamese Americans.
Says Nick, “What we found in the Vietnamese American community is that we don’t have a Telemundo, we don’t have Univision [two Spanish-language television networks]. We don’t have Vietnamese-language, well-funded, professional media organizations aimed at the Vietnamese American community.”
As a result, many Vietnamese speakers turn to YouTube for news and information.
Steph adds: “You just go down this wormhole of information that is in your language, that makes sense to you, that is digestible, but is so inaccurate, but you don’t know where else to turn to.”
Another challenge that affects Vietnamese Americans, among other non-English speakers in the U.S., is the lack of easily accessible election and voting information in their own language.
According to Steph, “I remember going to vote with my grandparents for Prop 8 [a 2008 California ballot proposition to ban same-sex marriage], and really trying to think in my head, ‘How do I explain this to my older grandparents in non-English, and do some type of mix of like Chinese-Vietnamese-English?’”
“It was so confusing, right?” replies Nick. “Vote ‘yes’ to ban gay marriage.”
While the Vietnamese American community continues to face these issues and more, Viet Fact Check is working to address them by providing news and fact-checking claims in both Vietnamese and English. Last October, Viet Fact Check’s contribution to an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver led to YouTube terminating the channel of a prominent Vietnamese American YouTuber spreading misinformation about the 2020 election, COVID, and other topics affecting the Vietnamese American community.
VietAmVote is expanding access to Vietnamese-language voter information for the Vietnamese American community. Another project called VietCOVID.org is providing resources to help educate Vietnamese Americans on COVID and the COVID vaccine. Like Viet Fact Check, these two non-partisan projects are a part of PIVOT – The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization.
There is still much to be done, but we are confident in the dedication and resilience of our team, which includes Nick, Steph, and many more hardworking volunteers! We are encouraged by the continued support from you, our readers, and the recent coverage of our work by PBS, the New York Times, and CNET. All of this helps shed light on the challenges we are up against and the changes we are working toward. This episode of Moments of Truth is available to watch with both Vietnamese and English subtitles: