Saturday, April 17, 2021
Home News Reports Vietnam: Facebook bends over backwards to appease communist regime by censoring ‘anti-state’ comments: All...

Vietnam: Facebook bends over backwards to appease communist regime by censoring ‘anti-state’ comments: All you need to know

State-owned telecom companies in Vietnam had pulled down the local servers of Facebook for around 7 weeks until the social media giant decided to give in to the demands of the Communist regime to censor 'anti-state' posts

The Communist regime in Vietnam has been cracking down on its dissenters, often resorting to making illegal arrests and detentions. The social media giant Facebook, which claims to be the crusader of freedom of speech, has been complying with the diktat of the Communist government in censorship critics and silencing opinion makers. The appeasement of the dictatorial government by a tech company from the oldest democracy of the world has left netizens across the world infuriated.

Between mid-February and early April this year, the State-owned telecom companies in Vietnam pulled down the local servers of Facebook for around 7 weeks until the social media giant decided to give in to the demands of the Communist regime to censor ‘anti-state’ posts. Users in the country noticed that access to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps had become incredibly slow. While the State media had blamed the slower access on undersea cable maintenance, a Facebook source conceded that the action was to put undue pressure on the company to comply with the government’s orders.

Facebook acknowledges complying with government’s diktat

In an email to Reuters, Facebook has conceded that it ‘reluctantly’ restricted access to ‘illegal content’, as deemed by the government of Vietnam. “We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and work hard to protect and defend this important civil liberty around the world …However, we have taken this action to ensure our services remain available and usable for millions of people in Vietnam, who rely on them every day,” Facebook said in a statement.

While it is mandated by law for Facebook to open local offices and store data in the country, Facebook has claimed that it does not store data in Vietnam. Having said that, the country is one of the biggest markets in Asia with digital advertising revenue to the tune of 550 $million (2018), 70% of which goes to Facebook and Google.

Screengrab of the Reuters report

Communist regime acknowledges rise in 40% censorship

In August 2019, Information and Communications Minister Nguyen Manh Hung said Facebook conceded that the social media giant was ‘restricting access’ to 70-75% posts, which are flagged by the government. He pointed out that the compliance percentage has risen up from 30%, thereby witnessing an increase of 40-45% to government diktats. Since 2017, the Communist regime has directed companies to not advertise with Facebook and Google until they find a solution to ‘toxic anti-government information. And the strategy has been working in the government’s favour. Facebook is now removing user-generated content, under the pretext of violating ‘Community guidelines.’

Activists in Vietnam jailed over Facebook posts

Vietnam ranks 175th out of 180 countries on the press freedom index, as compiled by Reporters Without Borders each year. The scope of dissent is extremely limited in Vietnam with government monitoring online activity on social media platforms such as Facebook with over 65 million users. At least 16 people have been arrested or detained so far by the Communist regime over ‘anti-state’ Facebook posts.

On October 20, a 51-year-old man named Nguyen Quang Khai was taken into custody for supposedly ‘sharing national secrets’ after he highlighted concerns about problems facing Vietnam, at the hands of the Communist regime, on Facebook. He was booked under Article 377 (Distributing or collecting state secrets and other materials) of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

In November alone, an additional five people were jailed by the government. Earlier, a 45-year-old music teacher Nguyen Nang Tinh was arrested sentenced to 11 years in prison for criticising the Communist regime on Facebook. In 2018, about 16 activist groups and 34 prominent users wrote an open letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accusing him of working in tandem with the government in crushing popular dissent.

Global criticism of Facebook’s decision

Slamming the US tech giant, Christian Mir from Reporters Without Borders stated, “Especially in countries with limited freedom of the press, social media such as Facebook give many journalists the opportunity to report freely…Facebook must be aware of this responsibility, clearly acknowledge freedom of the press and must not bow to possible censorship requirements of authoritarian regimes.”

Moreover, Amnesty International has emphasised that the decision of the social media giant sets a dangerous precedent. It stated, “Facebook’s compliance with these demands sets a dangerous precedent. Governments around the world will see this as an open invitation to enlist Facebook in the service of state censorship.”

Vietnamese government threatens to shut down Facebook

In a new development, the Vietnamese government has threatened to close down Facebook if it did not censor more anti-state political content on its platform. The threat comes despite the fact that the social media giant had agreed to cater to the government’s diktat to silence dissenters. Facebook has stated in its biannual transparency report that it has censored 834 items in the first half of the year, on the behest of the Communist regime.

“We made an agreement in April. Facebook has upheld our end of the agreement, and we expected the government of Vietnam to do the same…They have come back to us and sought to get us to increase the volume of content that we’re restricting in Vietnam. We’ve told them no. That request came with some threats about what might happen if we didn’t,” a Facebook source revealed. The official has further conceded that the social media giant has been subjected to a 14-month-long negative media campaign by the Vietnamese press.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Related Articles

Trending now

Republic Day violence: Hours after getting bail, Deep Sidhu gets arrested by Delhi Crime Branch

Only hours after Delhi Court granted bail to Deep Sidhu in Republic Day violence case, Delhi Crime Branch has reportedly arrested him again

Former Indian Express journalist has an ‘Allah’s virus’ moment, thanks God for COVID-19, says pandemic saved Muslims from detention camps

Irena Akbar, formerly with the Indian Express, has thanked God for Covid-19 and attributed the virus to God's plan.

New York Times provides platform to Islamic bigotry, columnist claims onus to convert is on non-Muslims after Hindu boyfriend refuses to convert

The New York Times on Friday provided platform to Islamic bigotry in a blog where the author narrates her 'tragic' love story.

Panic amid pandemic: Did we get complacent as we thought we got lucky

As India struggles in second wave of coronavirus pandemic, a lowdown of how we all got complacent to the Chinese virus

Christian pastor dupes Jalandhar family of Rs 80,000, converts them to Christianity on the pretext of healing cancer

Jalandhar Pastor Balwinder Singh duped a family of Rs 80,000 promising to cure a cancer patient, and converted them to Christianity

Watch: Muslim mob gathers at Dargah Bazar Ajmer after Friday prayers, demand arrest of Yati Narsinghanand, law against insult to Islam

Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati has been in the line of fire ever since he made some remarks on Prophet Muhammad

Recently Popular

Karan Johar’s Dharma Production fires Kartik Aryan, not to work with him again: Here is what happened

Dharma Productions said it was pushed to the wall by “unprofessional behaviour” of Kartik Aryan during shooting of Dostana 2

Aaj Tak to air public apology on 23rd April for sharing fake news on Sushant Singh Rajput, pay Rs 1 lac fine: Details

Aaj Tak has been asked by the NBSA (News Broadcasting Standard Authority) to air a public apology for fake news on Sushant Singh Rajput

Andhra Pradesh man hacks family of six including two children to avenge the rape of his daughter: Details

Andhra Pradesh police confirmed that the incident was a fall out of a old feud between the accused and the victim family

Derek O’Brien’s Clubhouse interaction exposes how TMC fears the prospect of loss in West Bengal: Three statements made and what they mean

Perhaps to fire-fight what Prashant Kishor said, Derek O'Brien appeared on Clubhouse for a short interaction with select 'liberals'.

Rally of dead bodies, threats against CRPF, lying and scaring with ‘detention camps’ so people don’t vote: What viral audio of Mamata Banerjee means

Mamata Banerjee was heard telling TMC worker Partha Pratim Roy to organise a political rally with the dead bodies to stir public sympathy

Kangana Ranaut slams Karan Johar after Dharma Productions fires Kartik Aryan, tells them not to ‘force him to hang himself’ like SSR

Kangana Ranaut has hit out at Karan Johar and Dharma Productions after Kartik Aryan was fired from Dostana 2.
- Advertisement -


Connect with us