Saturday, December 26, 2009
Facebook, which had struggled to find a toehold in Vietnam, took off in 2009, and now claims 3 million members.
Then, in early November, Facebook users began having trouble accessing the site. The government had ordered it blocked, employees at internet service providers said.
Nguyen Phuong Nga said the government was blocking some websites "which were being used to provide information damaging to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."
But a few Vietnamese, in the country and outside, had begun using Facebook for political purposes. After young dissident Nguyen Tien Trung was charged with political crimes in June, his friends established a Facebook group, Release Nguyen Tien Trung, that attracted hundreds of followers.
Bat Nha monastery
The exiled organization Viet Tan, which advocates multiparty democracy, maintains a Facebook page, too.
Vietnam models its efforts to censor internet content on those of China, but it lacks the resources that allow China
to employ 50,000 tech-savvy workers
to monitor the online world.
Websites like those of the Voice of America and Human Rights Watch are often blocked by some internet providers, but accessible on others.