It doesn’t ring the bell when I started having audacity to shop online. Things have been drastically changed, and even when I was writing this article, Vietnam's law drafters were in the midst of reviewing the current legal framework on e-commerce to make some bold changes in near future.

The fact is that besides websites and e-commerce trading platforms, social networks are swooping businesses and merchants to conduct sale and purchase of goods and services.  It is obvious that social networks have been increasingly used as marketing and distribution channels and tools. 

Vietnam's the legal framework governing e-commerce activities and social network activities has been introduced since 2013. However, reality is often moving faster than laws, and it triggers one legal issue in respect of how to deal with social networks that partly function as e-commerce platforms. 

The bugbear for law drafters is to trike a fair balance between "social network" function and e-commerce elements attached thereto. This means that rules concerning consumer protection right and advertisement should be considered in parallel. On top of that, orchestrating e-commerce regulations involving social networks should  take into account of the obligations of users when they upload the information on sale and purchase of goods and services on the social network, rather than the obligations of the social network platforms. 

Social network activities with e-commerce factors are quite distinctive and unlike any other form of e-commerce, including e-commerce trading platform. One of the differences between social network and e-commerce trading platform is that until now social networks do not have online ordering function. Sellers and buyers still need to directly contact with each other to complete commercial transactions. Meanwhile, e-commerce trading platforms have online ordering function and allow e-commerce activities to be completed from the step of ordering to the step of goods transport and delivery.

For cross-border social networks involving e-commerce elements, regulators would need to thoroughly understand the operational nature and mechanism of such cross-border social networks. If not, it would be very hard to design effective, rational and feasible regulations overseeing such activities.