Facebook removes 159 anti-government accounts at Vietnam’s request: official

vnexpress By Vo Hai   December 22, 2017 | 04:51 pm GMT+7

The information minister has pledged to push for more control over foreign tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network and the most popular in Vietnam, has acted upon a request by Vietnamese authorities to remove 159 anti-government accounts, a senior government official has said.

The network has removed accounts that defamed or criticized Vietnam’s leaders, and those that spread propaganda against the government and the ruling Communist Party, Truong Minh Tuan, Minister of Information and Communication, said at a meeting on Friday.

107 accounts identified as fake and 394 Facebook pages offering illegal products and services have also been shut down, Tuan said.

He said Vietnam has taken the lead in reining in global internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

“Violations on social networks have become more subtle and harder to recognize,” Tuan said. “Hostile forces could take advantage of technological developments to spread bad and toxic content more often on these foreign services.”

He said that Google has also removed around 4,500 videos containing bad or toxic content from YouTube out of the 5,000 videos requested to be taken down by Vietnam.

“Vietnam is among the countries whose demand is best met by Google,” Tuan said, as cited by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

He said the mission for Vietnam’s information sector next year is to improve policies to control online content and foreign service providers.

People use smartphones to check the Internet over wifi at a coffee shop in Hanoi. Photo by AFP

People use smartphones to check the Internet over wifi at a coffee shop in Hanoi. Photo by AFP

Conducting propaganda against the government is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail in Vietnam. The ruling Communist Party also announced earlier this month it would expel any members that insulted or damaged its reputation, or tried to encourage others to do so in any form, including on social media.

Vietnam has around 50 million internet users, or more than half of the population, and as many social media accounts.

Tuan has said in the past that the crowded space is not always a good thing, as “there are good and bad people”.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam told the legislative National Assembly that Vietnam encourages the development of social media, but “it has to go hand in hand with political stability, and must not distort, defame, divide or disseminate content that goes against the policies of the Party and the State, or Vietnamese culture.”

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