Facebook agreed to censor posts in Vietnam, restrict access to content

According to Reuters, Vietnam authorities purposely slowed local traffic to a crawl earlier this year to make Facebook agree to increase censorship.

A security officer talks to a woman walking on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday released its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, showing that the coming years will be decisive for the future of journalism amid global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The threat to the right for freely reported, independent, diverse and reliable information in Vietnam is clearly shown in a new report that Facebook’s local servers in Vietnam were allegedly taken offline earlier this year by local authorities.

According to two Facebook sources, quoted by Reuters, state-owned telecommunications companies authorities purposely slowed local traffic to a crawl “until (Facebook) agreed to significantly increase the censorship of “anti-state” posts for local users.”

In an emailed statement, Facebook confirmed it had reluctantly complied with the government’s request to “restrict access to content which it has deemed to be illegal”.

Facebook has become a weapon of choice for governments around the world, including Vietnam where the platform serves 65 million users for both e-commerce and expressions of political dissent.

Vietnam ranks 175th of 180 countries despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, showing that the ruling Communist Party retains tight control of media and tolerates little dissent.