Facebook tightens content restrictions in Vietnam

  • Facebook has restricted its access to certain content in Vietnam in a bid to tighten access to the internet and limit online dissent.
  • Requests were allegedly made by the Vietnamese government to restrict content including posts on the website which may not be viewed in some countries for potentially violating local laws
  • Almost 10 percent of about 128 Facebook users in the country were jailed for posting anti-state comments on the platform in the past.

Facebook is limiting access to content in Vietnam, a government official announced on Thursday, as the country steps up in its effort to crackdown on online dissent.

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Vietnam is among the countries with the most number of Facebook users despite moves from the ruling Communist Party to censor media and prevent criticism.

According to Reuters, information minister Nguyen Manh Hung had just announced in a parliament meeting at Hanoi last week about the progression on Facebook content restrictions in the country.

 “Facebook now meets 70 to 75% of the Vietnamese government’s requests, compared to around 30% earlier,” Hung said.

Hung said the government had requested Facebook restrictions from certain information including posts on the website which is not viewable in some countries because it is deemed to violate local laws.

Last May, Facebook said that it had increased the amount of content to which it restricted access in Vietnam by over 500% in the second half of 2018.

Vietnam has been tightening internet rules over the last few years, culminating in a cyber security law which came into effect in January and which requires companies like Facebook to set up local offices and store data in the country.

Google’s YouTube now meets about 80% to 85% of the government’s requests, up from 60% a year earlier, Hung told the meeting.

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Photo from Reuters

He added that Vietnam has already built a center to monitor the content of news websites and social media platforms that can sort millions of “positive” and “negative” data points as among its categories.

The information ministry also requested Facebook to identify account users, initially in Hanoi, the capital, and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s southern business hub, according to the local media.

Nearly 10% of the 128 prisoners held in Vietnam for expressing dissenting views were jailed for posting anti-state comments on social media platforms such as Facebook, Reuters said, citing a May Amnesty International report.

Sources:
Reuters
Reuters 2

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