Facebook agrees to censor anti-state posts after Vietnam slowed site – report
MANILA, Philippines – A Reuters report said Facebook has agreed to censor anti-state posts in Vietnam after the government took down Facebook's local servers offline early this year, in an effort to slow access to the site.
Two sources at the company told Reuters, Tuesday, April 21, about how the government forced its hand to muffle dissent on its platform. They said that the Facebook servers were offline for 7 weeks, rendering the site unusable at times, in order to coerce the social media platform to accede.
Facebook corroborated the statement of the 2 sources through an emailed statement to Reuters, confirming that it had reluctantly granted the government's request to “restrict access to content which it has deemed to be illegal." The 2 sources also told the publication that state telecoms firms Viettel and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) carried out the takedown of the local Facebook servers.
Human rights group Amnesty International called on Facebook to undo the censorship. "Facebook must immediately reverse its decision to censor posts deemed critical of the government in Vietnam," said the group, Wednesday, April 22.
"The revelation that Facebook is caving to Vietnam’s far-reaching demands for censorship is a devastating turning point for freedom of expression in Vietnam and beyond,” said William Nee, business and human rights advisor at Amnesty International.
“The Vietnamese authorities’ ruthless suppression of freedom of expression is nothing new, but Facebook’s shift in policy makes them complicit,” the group said, pinning responsibility on the platform.
"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. It does all tech firms a terrible disservice by making them vulnerable to the same type of pressure and harassment from repressive governments."
The alleged forced slowdown of Facebook in Vietnam took place from mid-February to April, with Reuters reporting that the state media blamed the slowdown on technical issues such as undersea cable maintenance. “VNPT and partners are actively working to check and rectify the problem,” the telco said at the time, according to the site.
But as one of their sources explained, their servers were turned back online, and thus the site became usuable again, after Facebook "committed to restricting more content." – Rappler.com