Facebook agrees to comply with Vietnam’s censorship laws: govt

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HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s government said Facebook has committed to work with it to prevent content that violates the country’s laws from appearing on its platform.

In February, communist Vietnam complained about “toxic” anti-government and offensive content on Facebook and Google’s YouTube, and in March pressured local companies to withdraw advertising until the social media firms found a solution.

Facebook’s commitment came during a meeting between its Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert and Vietnamese information and communication minister Truong Minh Tuan in Hanoi on Wednesday, a statement on the government’s website said.

“Facebook will set up a separate channel to directly coordinate with Vietnam’s communication and information ministry to prioritize requests from the ministry and other competent authorities in the country,” the statement said.

The firm will also remove fake accounts and fake content about senior government officials, it said.

A Facebook representative said the company had a clear and consistent process for governments to report illegal content.

“We review all these requests against our terms of service and applicable law. We are transparent about the requests we receive from government and content we restrict pursuant with local law in our Global Government Requests Report,” the representative said in an emailed statement.

The report shows no content restricted at the request of Vietnam’s government between July 2015 and June 2016, the latest period for which Facebook has published data.

Vietnam’s government tolerates little dissent and human rights groups and western countries have criticised its arrest of anti-government bloggers.

While Vietnam makes up a very small part of the business operations of companies like Google and Facebook, it is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies and a hot investment target for global consumer brands.

Within Vietnam itself, YouTube and Facebook account for two-thirds of digital media market share, according to local agency Isobar Vietnam.

Facebook has faced an unrelated challenge this week in nearby Thailand, where a man broadcast himself killing his 11-month-old daughter in a live video on Facebook that stayed on the platform for 24 hours before being removed.

(By My Pham; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Richard Pullin)

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