Hanoi threatens to ban Facebook in its country if it doesn’t bow to government pressure to increase censorship of local political content on its platform, a senior official for the US social media giant told Reuters.
Hanoi is asking Facebook to tighten the restrictions
Hanoi repeated its call on Facebook to tighten restrictions on its users’ critical messages against the government. He even threatens to ban the platform in the country. “They came back to us and tried to get us to increase the amount of content that we restrict in Vietnam. We said no. This request was accompanied by threats of what could happen if we didn’t, ”said the senior US official. Facebook currently has around 60 million users in Vietnam and generates sales of almost 1 billion US dollars in the Southeast Asian tourist country.
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Despite numerous economic reforms and the boom in Vietnam in recent years, the Communist Party, which has been in power since 1975, retains extensive control over the media and tolerates little resistance. Indeed, Vietnam ranks fifth from the bottom on the world press freedom ranking set by Reporters Without Borders.
834 Content already restricted
Although Facebook has often been criticized for complying with the censorship required by governments, as was the case in Singapore, the spokeswoman for the American platform does not want to give up this fight in Vietnam: “We will do everything possible to ensure that our services are available remain available so that people can continue to express themselves. ”Currently, the social network has already restricted access to 834 posts in the last six months.
For the Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Facebook should respect local laws and stop “disseminating information that violates traditional Vietnamese customs and harms the interests of the state”.
Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s assistant regional director for campaigns, said that “Facebook has a clear responsibility for respecting human rights wherever it operates in the world and Vietnam is no exception.” “Governments around the world will see this decision as an open invitation to put Facebook in the service of state censorship,” the organization added in a statement on April 22, 2020.
During the pandemic, Vietnam largely restricted access to social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Messenger. Vietnam has set up its own local social network to compete with the American giant, but to no great success as its popularity is insufficient compared to Facebook, which is still very popular with Vietnamese people. The future will tell if Facebook will continue to accept Hanoi’s threats against Facebook.