Facebook accedes to Vietnam’s request to step up local content restrictions

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Facebook is restricting access to increasing amounts of content in Vietnam, a government official said on Thursday, as the Southeast Asian country ramps up a campaign to tighten access to the internet.

The social media platform is widely used in Vietnam where, despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, the ruling Communist Party continues to censor media tightly and does not tolerate criticism.

“Facebook now meets 70 to 75% of the Vietnamese government’s requests, compared to around 30% earlier, information minister Nguyen Manh Hung said at a parliament meeting in Hanoi.

Hung was referring to government requests for Facebook restrictions, meaning a piece of content posted to the website which cannot be viewed in some countries because it is deemed to violate local laws.

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

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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.

Hanoi has in the past accused the U.S. social media giant of violating local laws by allowing subversive comments to be published on its platform.

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

He also said that Vietnam has built a centre to monitor the content of news websites and social media platforms which can sort millions of data points into categories like “positive” and “negative”.

“The ratio of ‘negative’ information had been 30%, but now we’ve taken action that ratio has basically been brought to below 10%,” said Hung.

Separately, the information ministry has asked Facebook to disclose the identities of account users, initially in Hanoi, the capital, and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s southern business hub, local media reported on Thursday.

Only authenticated accounts would be allowed to broadcast live video on the platform, the online newspaper VnExpress reported.

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, an Amnesty report said in May.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.