Vietnamese man fined for criticizing gov’t policies on Facebook

By Nguyen Dong   October 6, 2016 | 01:41 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese man fined for criticizing gov’t policies on Facebook
The Facebook page
His page “I love Da Nang” has over 74,000 followers and remains accessible.

A Da Nang man was fined VND8.75 million ($390) on Thursday for making offensive comments about city policies and officials on his Facebook page.

Inspectors from the municipal department of information and communication said Giang Kien Huy was fined for electronically slandering and sabotaging individuals and organizations.

Huy, who manages a local internet shop, established the page “I love Da Nang” on the popular social network several years ago to offer daily updates about life, culture, travel and government policies in Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city.

The page took a critical turn, recently, posting status updates that ultimately were deemed “offensive to the city leaders.”

A source at the department said Huy's status updates were “subjective, one-sided, distorted and aimed at maligning and defaming Da Nang's leaders.”

“I love Da Nang” remained up on Thursday morning with more than 74,000 followers, though the controversial posts had all been removed.

Nearly 49 million people in Vietnam (over half the population) enjoy internet access and more than 30 million use Facebook.

Last year, former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged government officials to embrace social media networks, suggesting that engagement offered the best means of dealing with those who use them to slander the country's leadership or terrorize the population.

“We won’t be able to ban social networks,"  he told reporters at VnEconomy. "The important thing is we should provide more accurate information there to create public confidence.”

Dung said Vietnam's government pledged to offer “favorable conditions” in which Internet firms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter can do business, while calling on the country's social media users to be more “responsible.”

Last November, Dung said the internet should be “clean and pure” and serve as a tool to protect democracy, human rights and civil rights “in a progressive, law-governed state.”

The government of Vietnam created a Facebook page in October of last year.

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