Zuck loves free speech so much Facebook will censor 'anti-state' content in Vietnam after telcos 'crippled' access

Fine, fine, we'll ban whatever the government says is illegal, just give us back access, says US giant

Updated Facebook has given in to Vietnamese government demands, and agreed to remove any content considered “anti-state” after telcos in the nation reportedly cut off access to the social network's systems.

Vietnamese users found the social media site difficult to access in February amid growing alarm over the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, a time when communications were vital. Connectivity to the US giant's Messenger service was painfully slow, for instance. Facebook-owned Instagram was also affected.

Initially, the disruption was blamed on dodgy undersea cables in need of repair. Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), the second largest company owned by the country's government, said it was working on fixing the breakdown.

Cheesy pic of man holding face in shame as accusatory finger emerges from display. Photo via Shutterstock

You were warned and you didn't do enough: UK preps Big Internet content laws


However, it's claimed VNPT, among other providers, actually tampered with connections to Facebook’s servers to get the Silicon Valley giant to comply with the government's demands to filter out anti-state speech. In return for restored access to the nation, Facebook had to step up its effort to censor posts speaking out against the Vietnamese government.

And lo, the issue has been resolved after Facebook agreed to remove “anti-state” content. The American giant confirmed it had agreed to “restrict access to content which it has deemed to be illegal,” in a statement first reported by Reuters. That's the same Facebook run by Mark "I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely" Zuckerberg.

The Communist Party of Vietnam rules over the nation's media, online and offline, and also tightened its grip on internet communications when it passed a cybersecurity law in 2018. The law [PDF] requested all “domestic or foreign enterprise[s] which provide services on telecom networks and on the Internet” that collect and process personal data on its users to store that data in Vietnam and to hand it over if requested.

Sources told Reuters Facebook felt obligated to give in to the Vietnamese government since links to its servers were being directly interfered with, cutting off service for its Vietnamese users.“To be clear, that does not mean we will be complying with every request that the government sends us. But we did commit to restricting significantly more content,” an insider said.

The Register has asked Facebook for comment. ®

Updated to add

A Facebook spokesperson has been in touch to say:

The Vietnamese government has instructed us to restrict access to content which it has deemed to be illegal in Vietnam. We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and work hard to protect and defend this important civil liberty around the world. However, we have taken this action to ensure our services remain available and usable for millions of people in Vietnam, who rely on them every day.

Tech Resources

How backup modernization changes the ransomware game

If the thrill of backing up your data and wondering if you will ever see it again has worn off, start the new year by getting rid of the lingering pain of legacy backup. Bipul Sinha, CEO of the Cloud Data Management Company, Rubrik, and Miguel Zatarain, Director of Global Infrastructure Technology at PACCAR, Fortune 500 manufacturer of trucks and Rubrik customer, are talking to the Reg’s Tim Phillips about how to eliminate the costly, slow and spotty performance of legacy backup, and how to modernize your implementation in 2021 to make your business more resilient.

The State of Application Security 2020

Forrester analyzed the state of application security in 2020 and found over 75% of external attacks are attributed to web application and software exploits.

Webcast Slide Deck | Three reasons you need a hybrid multicloud

Businesses need their IT teams to operate applications and data in a hybrid environment spanning on-premises private and public clouds. But this poses many challenges, such as managing complex networking, re-architecting applications for the cloud, and managing multiple infrastructure silos. There is a pressing need for a single platform that addresses these challenges - a hybrid multicloud built for the digital innovation era. Just this Regcast to find out: Why hybrid multicloud is the ideal path to accelerate cloud migration.

Top 20 Private Cloud Questions Answered

Download this asset for straight answers to your top private cloud questions.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021