Facebook "agreed to censor posts" after Vietnam slowed traffic

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PanARMENIAN.Net - Facebook’s local servers in Vietnam were taken offline early this year, slowing local traffic to a crawl until it agreed to significantly increase the censorship of “anti-state” posts for local users, two sources at the company told Reuters on Tuesday, April 21.

The restrictions, which the sources said were carried out by state-owned telecommunications companies, knocked the servers offline for around seven weeks, meaning the website became unusable at times.

“We believe the action was taken to place significant pressure on us to increase our compliance with legal takedown orders when it comes to content that our users in Vietnam see,” the first of the two Facebook sources said.

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”.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry, which handles requests from foreign journalists for comment from the government, did not respond to a Reuters request. State telecoms firms Viettel and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) also did not respond to requests for comment.

Commenting on the Reuters report, human rights group Amnesty International called on Facebook to immediately reverse its decision.

“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,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.

Facebook has faced pressure to take down anti-government content in many countries over the years.

In Vietnam, despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, the ruling Communist Party retains tight control of media and tolerates little dissent, ranking 175th of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

To that end, it keeps a close watch on Facebook, which serves over 65 million users as the main platform for both e-commerce and expressions of political dissent.

Photo. Reuters
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