Despite an intermittent block since November 2009, Facebook is fast becoming the most popular and influential social network in Vietnam. As witnessed in the Middle East and North Africa, social networks offer a space for civil society to grow, where individuals and groups can freely share opinions and express dissent. By providing citizens with tools for communication and mobilization, Facebook and other social media are also transforming Vietnam.
In a recent study conducted by Viet Tan, nine out of ten users surveyed experienced restricted Facebook access. An overwhelming majority of these users responded that they would take action by writing their Internet Service Provider (ISP) or disseminating circumvention techniques to friends.
The growth of Facebook in Vietnam, despite government restrictions, represents an act of civil disobedience among Internet users. The Hanoi government’s efforts to limit access to Facebook requires our continued advocacy and dissemination of circumvention techniques to guarantee the freedom to connect.
The Vietnamese government defriends Facebook
In early 2008, Facebook introduced its Translations Application which allowed for language localization to be crowd sourced. Facebook users worldwide participated to help translate the website’s 24,000 phrases into every major language in the world, including Vietnamese. By the end of 2008, Facebook established a toe-hold in Vietnam with just under 100,000 users.
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