Vietnam wants companies to stop advertising on YouTube and Facebook because of anti-government content.
Google Asia Pacific has recently sent local media YouTube’s official response to the Vietnamese Government’s claims of “toxic” anti-government information being published and its call for all enterprises doing business in the country to cease advertising on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites.
“We have only received 50 requests for content removal from the Vietnamese Government,” YouTube said in a statement. “We will examine this content thoroughly and take appropriate steps. We continue to work with the Vietnamese Government and are always willing to answer any questions or issues of concern.”
“We have a clear policy towards requests for content removal from all governments around the world,” the statement went on. “We rely on governments to inform us through a formal process about content they deem illegal and when appropriate we will restrict access to such content after thorough consideration. All such requests from governments are saved and put in our Transparency Report.”
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) held a meeting on March 16 to call for all companies to cease advertising on YouTube, Facebook and other social media until they find a way to halt the publication of “toxic” anti-government information.
At the meeting, companies, including the local operations of Unilever, Ford and Yamaha Motor, committed to obey the call to suspend YouTube advertising.
Last month, authorities began putting pressure on advertisers to try to get YouTube owner Google and other companies to remove content posted by foreign-based dissidents.
However, Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said the response had not been good enough. Although there were 8,000 anti-government videos on YouTube, Google had only blocked 42, he said.
“Today we call on all Vietnamese firms to take their advertising money away from sites that publish anti-government content,” Mr. Tuan told companies at the meeting in Hanoi. “We also call on all internet users to raise their voices with Google and Facebook to prevent toxic content that violates Vietnamese law being published.”
YouTube reiterated its global policy of thoroughly reviewing government requests to block content they believe is illegal and restricting it where appropriate. Facebook gave no immediate response.
The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an industry association that includes both companies, said Vietnam and its businesses benefited greatly from the internet.
“The internet’s ability to deliver growth dividends and benefit Vietnamese businesses and people depends on it remaining open and allowing information and services to flow freely and safely across borders,” said Mr. Jeff Paine, AIC’s Managing Director. “With the potential for Vietnam’s digital economy, it is critical for the Vietnamese Government to protect the open nature of the internet and put in place conditions that incentivize investment and nurture innovation.”