FlashNote: Human Trafficking and Social Media: From Threat to Opportunity?

On 9 September, Facebook user Mimi Vu posted a traumatic account of every parent’s worst fear – a child deceived and stolen by human traffickers.

Mimi, a staff member at Pacific Links Foundation, relayed the story of an ethnic Hmong woman from Lao Cai province in northern Vietnam, standing all of 4’8” tall, who tracked down her daughter and took her back from traffickers in China.

The daughter had borrowed her mother’s smartphone and started using Facebook. There, she met a Hmong […]

By |September 23rd, 2016|0 Comments

Disappearing act: VN media Facebook pages R.I.P?

BBC’s Vietnamese service reports that from 7 September, the Facebook fan pages of several online newspapers ‘disappeared’ or had most of their content removed. The Facebook pages of VNExpress, Zing, Dan Try and Giao Duc Viet Nam (Vietnam Education) either were removed or showed no recent content.

No reason was given except Vietnam Education announcing: “Due to the human resources and material constraints we are not able to manage all the comments on the fan page, so the newspaper editors decided to […]

By |September 12th, 2016|0 Comments

FlashNote: Vietnam’s Cyber Security Law Threatens Privacy Rights and Encryption

Vietnam’s government just opened a backdoor into encrypted communications. Vietnamese social activists should take note.

Vietnam is among the world’s most targeted countries for cyber attacks given its ongoing diplomatic tensions with China. The July hacking of Noi Bai Airport underlined the scale of Vietnam’s cyber crime woes. Malware delivered to unsuspecting internet users, including staff of government agencies, is seen as a main entry point for hackers.

It is timely, then, that on 1 July Vietnam enacted the 2015 Cyber […]

By |September 8th, 2016|0 Comments

FlashNote: “#BankruptcyNation” Brings Spotlight on 2015 Criminal Code

A surprise addition to the new Criminal Code threatens Vietnam’s internet start-ups.

A lawyer at a small start-up law firm was perusing the 2015 Criminal Code, set to take effect on 1 July, when he came across a new and entirely unexpected article on penalties for unlicensed internet-related enterprises.

Article 292 of the Code states that any unlicensed provider of Internet- or mobile-based services that generates profits between VND50-100 million (USD $2,200-8,900), or revenue between VND500 million and VND2 billion (USD $22,300-89,300) will […]

By |June 29th, 2016|0 Comments

Fake Pages Test Facebook Community Standards

A public figure takes action against a fake Facebook page that was targeting him with online hate.

Giang Dang checked his Facebook feed on 12 June to come across a ‘Community’ Page with his name, his profile photo, and several posts made purportedly in his name. The posts had dozens or even hundreds of shares. Though not outwardly abusive, the posts made Giang appear conceited based on his intellectual superiority and academic credentials. The comments below the posts heaped scorn on […]

By |June 18th, 2016|0 Comments

Phan Anh and the ‘What’s Your Purpose?’ Meme

Social media fails continue as Vietnam’s mainstream media struggles to gauge popular opinion and adapt to the Facebook era.

Open Hour is a TV show hosted by a well-known journalist, Ta Bich Loan. It’s a talk show where invited guests discuss the latest social issues.

Open Hour was not widely known until the 27 May episode, when the chosen topic was ‘What to share on social media?’ One of the guests was MC and entertainer Phan Anh, who had earlier shared a […]

By |June 17th, 2016|0 Comments

FlashNote: Vietnam’s Fish Fiasco – Social Media, Protest and the Police

Social media anger spilled onto the streets of Vietnam on 8 May. The following weekend, the authorities blocked Facebook and successfully stymied further public demonstrations.

Round one went to the protesters; round two went to the authorities.

On 8 May, Vietnam’s leaders were caught off-guard by the intensity of public protest following the outrage over mass fish deaths along the central coast.

The slogan “Cá cần nước sạch, Dân cần minh bạch” (‘Fish need clean water, people need transparency.’) became a rallying cry. Clearly, […]

By |May 19th, 2016|2 Comments

Social media sides with Vietnam’s dead fishes

As peaceful street protests turned into mild scuffles with the police in Hanoi and HCM City over the weekend, the government’s PR failings took centre stage. With fish dying by the millions along beaches in central Vietnam, the lack of answers resulted in much finger-pointing over the past two weeks, with a Taiwan-invested steel plant owned by Formosa Plastics at the centre of the online firestorm. The company did not help matters when their PR manager initially told reporters, “you […]

By |May 3rd, 2016|0 Comments

FlashNote: Mẹ Sề and Online Hate

Initiatives to combat online hate are slowly making inroads with ‘kindness’ efforts like Tu Te La – but as elsewhere, Vietnam’s online world is rife with animosity.

Microsoft pulled the plug on an artificial intelligence ‘tweeting robot’ last week after ill-intentioned netizens helped it to post offensive, hate-filled comments. Clearly, online hate is pervasive on social media platforms around the world. Vietnam is no exception.

Scholar and social commentator Dang Hoang Giang recently exposed the organized nature of online hate in the […]

By |April 8th, 2016|1 Comment

Quang A on the ‘democratic learning process’

In the lead-up to National Assembly elections in May, upwards of 20 independent candidates have declared their intention to run. Given the tightly controlled and opaque nomination process, most or even all of them are unlikely to be permitted to stand for election (let alone win seats). But that may not matter. The most well-known of the independents, Nguyen Quang A, feels their success is already assured. A key component is the exposure made possible by social media.

“(Social media) is very […]

By |March 13th, 2016|3 Comments