Vietnam has threatened to shut down Facebook in the country if it does not bow to government pressure to censor more local political content on its platform, a senior official at the US social media giant said.
Facebook complied with a government request in April to significantly increase its censorship of “anti-state” posts for local users, but Vietnam asked the company again in August to step up its restrictions of critical posts, the official said.
“We made an agreement in April. Facebook has upheld our end of the agreement and we expected the government of Vietnam to do the same,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“They have come back to us and sought to get us to increase the volume of content that we’re restricting in Vietnam,” the official added. “We’ve told them no. That request came with some threats about what might happen if we didn’t.”
The official said that the threats included shutting down Facebook altogether in Vietnam, a major market for the social media company.
It earns revenue of nearly US$1 billion, two sources familiar with the numbers said.
Facebook has faced mounting pressure from governments over its content policies, including threats of new regulations and fines, but it has avoided a ban in all but the few places where it has never been allowed to operate, such as China.
In Vietnam, despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, the ruling communist party retains tight control of media and tolerates little opposition.
The country ranks fifth from the bottom in a global ranking of press freedom compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to questions that Facebook should abide by local laws and cease “spreading information that violates traditional Vietnamese customs and infringes upon state interests.”
A Facebook spokeswoman said that in recent months, it had faced additional pressure from Vietnam to censor more content.
In its biannual transparency report released yesterday, Facebook said that it had restricted access to 834 items in Vietnam in the first six months of this year, following requests from the Vietnamese government to remove content.
Facebook, which serves about 60 million users in Vietnam as the main platform for e-commerce and expressions of political dissent, is under constant government scrutiny.
Reuters exclusively reported in April that Facebook’s local servers in Vietnam were taken offline early this year until it complied with the government’s demands.
Facebook has long faced criticism from rights group for being too compliant with government censorship requests.
“However, we will do everything we can to ensure that our services remain available, so people can continue to express themselves,” the spokeswoman said.
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said the incoming administration of US president-elect Joe Biden should move quickly to restore lines of communication with China that frayed during US President Donald Trump’s term or risk a crisis that could escalate into military conflict. “Unless there is some basis for some cooperative action, the world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I,” Kissinger said during the opening session of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. He said military technologies available today would make such a crisis “even more difficult to control” than those of earlier eras. “America and China are
14 GRIEVANCES: Australia’s values, democracy and sovereignty ‘are not up for trade,’ the prime minister said, after Beijing accused Canberra of poisoning bilateral relations Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would not compromise national security and sovereignty, as Beijing ramped up its criticism of his government and warned it against making China an enemy. “Australia will always be ourselves,” Morrison said in a television interview yesterday with the Nine Network. “We will always set our own laws and our own rules according to our national interests — not at the behest of any other nation, whether that’s the US or China or anyone else.” A Chinese diplomat in Canberra gave a document to Australian media outlets outlining 14 grievances and accusing Canberra of “poisoning bilateral
For thousands of years, the dainty Fritillaria delavayi has grown slowly on the rocky slopes of the Hengduan mountains in China, producing a bright green flower after its fifth year. The conspicuous small plant has one deadly enemy: people, who harvest the flower for traditional Chinese medicine. As commercial harvesting has intensified, Fritillaria delavayi has vanished — by rapidly evolving to produce gray and brown leaves and flowers that cannot be so easily seen by pickers. Scientists have discovered that the color of the plant’s leaves has become more camouflaged — matching the background rocks on which they grow — in areas where
On the morning of Oct. 23, a 56-year-old employee at West Japan Railway was inspecting trains when he encountered an Asian black bear just outside Tsuruga Station in Japan’s northwestern Fukui Prefecture. He escaped with just a scratch, but about 10 minutes later, the same bear fractured the leg of a worker at a nearby construction site. Four days before the incident, a male bear entered a four-story shopping center in neighboring Ishikawa Prefecture. The 1.3m-tall bear holed up in a storage room for 13 hours, until it was shot by a local hunting group. Between April and September, wild bears were spotted 13,670