Vietnamese internet users baffled as popular Facebook pages vanish

By VnExpress   March 20, 2017 | 12:00 am PT
Vietnamese internet users baffled as popular Facebook pages vanish
A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye, in Zenica. Photo by Reuters
People suspect it was a Facebook cleanup attempt.

Many Vietnamese internet-users are scratching their heads over the sudden disappearance of many popular Facebook pages.

On March 17 and 18, pages with millions of likes such as the official page of Foody, a Vietnam-based company that, like Yelp, provides restaurant reviews and helps customers find food and dining places, were locked, making them inaccessible to users, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

Popular pages, including "Tieng Anh la chuyen nho" (English is a small thing) with 1.8 million likes, "Nonsense comic" (980,000 likes) and others have also disappeared.

In addition, YouTube channels in Vietnam with a large number of subscribers have also been blocked.

The total number of high-profile blocked Facebook pages rose beyond 50 on Saturday, with only a handful of them restored on Sunday, Tuoi Tre said. Most of the mentioned pages were back up and running normally on Monday.

However, the incident has generated confusion among advertisers, social media and marketing workers, as well as the online community.

Facebook, which has around 35 million users in Vietnam, has yet to release an official statement or comment on the matter so far.

Popular opinion is leaning on a theory that it was an attempt by Facebook to clean up pages and fanpages that violate digital content rights under the company's usage policy.

The company’s ban hammer typically falls on pages that download the content from another place and then re-post it (an act termed "re-up", short for "reupload"), instead of linking directly to the source.

Despite violating Facebook policies, collating and using copyrighted content is still the most common method of gaining profits for many Vietnamese Facebook users.

After facing a torrent of criticism at home over fake news for its possible impact on the U.S. presidential election, Facebook is now also under pressure from other parts of the world.

Vietnam, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are on a list of countries that have responded to the rampant "fake news" appearing on Facebook and Google’s social networks, while accusing these companies of not stepping up control or taking responsibility.

Vietnam last Thursday called on all companies doing business in the country to stop advertising on YouTube, Facebook and other social media until they find a way to halt the publication of "toxic" anti-government information.

Several major Vietnamese companies, including diary giant Vinamilk and Vietnam Airlines, said earlier this month that they had stopped running ads on YouTube following a government announcement that the platform was violating Vietnamese laws.

Nearly 49 million people in Vietnam are internet users; 60 percent of the total population of nearly 92 million are under the age of 35.

Related news:

> In Facebook, young Vietnamese see an ally

> Vietnam tells firms to stop YouTube and Facebook ads

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