Vietnam urges firms to
stop YouTube and Facebook ads in protest over 'fake
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[March 16, 2017]
By My Pham
(Reuters) - Vietnam on Thursday called on all companies doing business
there to stop advertising on YouTube, Facebook and other social media
until they find a way to halt the publication of "toxic" anti-government
At a meeting with the information and communication minister, companies
including the local operations of Unilever, Ford and Yamaha Motor all
committed to obey the call to suspend YouTube advertising.
Last month, the communist country began putting pressure on advertisers
to try to get YouTube owner Google and other companies to remove content
from foreign-based dissidents.
But Information and Communication Minister Truong Minh Tuan said the
response had not yet been good enough. Although there were 8,000
anti-government videos on YouTube, Google had only blocked 42 and hadn't
removed them completely, the ministry said.
"Today we call on all Vietnamese firms that are advertising not to abet
them to take advertising money from firms to use against the Vietnamese
government," Tuan told companies at a meeting in Hanoi.
"We also call on all internet users to raise their voice to Google and
Facebook to prevent toxic, fake content violating Vietnamese law in the
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, an industry association which includes both
companies, said Vietnam and its businesses benefited greatly from the
"It is critical for the Vietnamese government to protect the open nature
of the internet, and put in place the right conditions that incentivize
investment and nurture innovation," said Jeff Paine, the group's
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A picture illustration shows a YouTube logo reflected in a person's
eye June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
governments to complain to Google and Facebook about content published online is
not new, but industry officials said there was less precedent for a state to try
to put pressure on them through their advertisers.
Vietnam's state-owned Vinamilk, and flag carrier Vietnam Airlines suspended
YouTube ads last month after the government told them their ads had appeared
alongside inappropriate content.
Because of the computer-directed processes that pair adverts with their targeted
audiences on social media, companies are not always aware of or have direct
control over which specific videos an advert has been placed alongside.
Vietnam has come under fire from Western countries and human rights groups for
its Decree 72 on social media - which bans information that it deems
anti-government, damaging to national security or destroying national unity.
Despite the restrictions, content that ostensibly breaches the code's standards
is still prolific.
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 in Vietnam, according to Nguyen Khoa Hong Thanh, Operations
Director at digital marketing agency Isobar Vietnam.
(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Nick Macfie)
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