Open letter calling on Facebook to “unfriend” harmful social networks in Vietnam

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On Facebook’s 19th birthday, over 60 human rights NGOs and prominent Vietnamese Facebookers called on Mark Zuckerberg to “unfriend” harmful social networks in Vietnam.

The open letter urges Meta to delete the millions of fake Facebook accounts in Vietnam, shut down networks that engage in coordinated mass reporting, and provide an avenue for Vietnamese activists, journalists and stakeholders to appeal content takedowns.

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Open letter calling on Facebook to “unfriend” harmful social networks in Vietnam

Mark Zuckerberg

Meta Platforms Inc

1 Hacker Way

Menlo Park, CA 94025

February 1, 2023

Dear Mark,

February 4th marks nearly two decades since Facebook was founded in 2004. On this 19th birthday, we urge you to recommit to giving people the power to build community and bringing the world closer together.

Facebook has revolutionized how we consume, create, and share information. But it has also increasingly become a tool to suppress the very freedom of expression it was meant to promote, as political actors have manipulated the platform to curtail dissent and harass opponents.

Vietnam has been a prime example:

  • Sophisticated networks of seemingly authentic Facebook accounts mass report activist accounts to take down content and use bots to proliferate false information.

In July and December 2021, Reuters reported that Facebook removed networks of accounts that targeted Vietnamese activists critical of the country’s government.1 One particular group was called “E47,” which has military and non-military members coordinating ways to mass report and spam accounts. This group is connected to Force 47, the Vietnamese military’s cyber unit that is charged with defending party ideology online since 2016.

Despite Facebook’s apparent removal of the E47 group, Reuters still found tens of thousands of users connected to other known Force 47 groups. Additionally, attacks continue to persist. In October 2022, dozens of activists and prominent Facebook pages were targeted by bots spamming messages relentlessly for several weeks.2 Since a key Facebook metric is focused on highlighting posts that get a large number of comments, such spamming tactics allow the content of these attacks to spread further, misinform, and harm online social interactions.3

  • Harmful networks in Vietnam reveal a concern regarding account authenticity — an issue directly affecting investors, advertisers, and human rights defenders.4 

Internal Facebook documents publicized by whistleblower Frances Haugen mention the existence of potentially 15 million fake accounts in Vietnam. Not only do these fake accounts skew the accuracy of the supposed 70 million Facebook users in Vietnam, but they also contribute to the mass reporting of authentic accounts.

Furthermore, the farming of clicks to cultivate a real audience base for Facebook pages and groups creates inauthentic social interactions. This tactic entails hiring people to click on links to increase the virality of a post, or constantly publishing content that misleads and exaggerates to attract actual users. Vietnam is apparently at the center of a booming fake account industry that’s scaled up by mass automation. The motive may be for monetary or political gains, but the result is the spread of misinformation.5

Facebook previously announced how authentic users can coordinate social harm through the case of the Querdenken movement in Germany, and the team immediately removed the network’s accounts, pages, and groups.6

In the year ahead, we call on you to fully address ongoing coordinated social harm on the Facebook platform, especially in Vietnam. Specifically, we urge you to:

1) Delete the millions of reportedly fake Facebook accounts in Vietnam and consider policy changes to disincentivize flagrant “click-bait” behavior.

2) Shut down networks that engage in coordinated mass reporting and other social harms.

3) Provide an avenue for Vietnamese activists, journalists and stakeholders to appeal content takedowns and to work directly with Facebook staff when targeted by coordinated social harm campaigns.

As you expand into tomorrow’s metaverse, we hope that you will commit to ensuring safe and authentic interactions on your platforms today.


Brotherhood for Democracy (Hội Anh Em Dân Chủ) |

Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association |

Catholic Youth (Thanh Niên Công Giáo) |

Destination Justice |

Free Journalists Club of Vietnam (Câu Lạc Bộ Nhà Báo Tự Do) |


#MilkTeaAlliance Calendar Team

#MilkTeaAlliance Friends of Myanmar

Myanmar Internet Project

New Horizon Media (Chân Trời Mới Media) |

PEN America |

Reporters Without Borders |

Safeguard Defenders

Saigon Broadcasting Television Network |

V5TV Tin Tức Úc Việt |

Viet Tan |

Activists & Citizen Journalists:

Anh Chi |

Bui Hue |

Philip Bui |

Son Bui |

Dao Ba Ke |

Dang Huu Nam |

Dang Thi Hue |

Doan Thi Thuy Duong |

Do Le Na |

Do Thi Thu |

Suzie Dong Xuyen |

Ho Duc Hoa |

Hoang Tu Duy |

Huynh Ngoc Chenh |

Huynh Van Ba |

Paulus Le Son |

Le Thanh Tung |

Le Thi Thap |

Manh Kim |

Nguyen Dinh Ha |

JB Nguyen Huu Vinh |

Nguyen Manh Hung |

Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet |

Nguyen Thi Chau |

Nguyen Thi Kim Chi |

Nguyen Thi Hue |

Trang Nguyen |

Nguyen Van Hai |

Nguyen Van Khanh |

Dominic Pham |

Moc Lan Pham |

Pham Minh Hoang |

Than Pham |

Pham Thanh Tam |

Phong Van Phan |

Michel Tran Duc |

Tran Thi Thu Thuy |

Tran Minh Nhat |

Trinh Thi Nhung |

Trinh Thi Thao |

Truc Ho |

Benny Truong |

Tuan Khanh |

Tuong Thang |

Elodie Vialle |

Vo Hong Ly |

Vo An Don |

Vu Duc Khanh |

Vu Thach |


1. James Pearson, “How Vietnam’s ‘influencer’ army wages information warfare on Facebook,” Reuters, July 8, 2021,; James Pearson, “Facebook says it removes accounts which targeted Vietnamese activists,” Reuters, December 1, 2021, ​​

2. “Harmful network targets Vietnamese civil society: Facebook must take action,” Viet Tan, October 28, 2022,

3. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Tory Newmyer, and Shibani Mahtani, “The case against Mark Zuckerberg: Insiders say Facebook’s CEO chose growth over safety,” Washington Post, October 25, 2021,

4. Dai Do, Duyen Bui, Michel Tran Duc, “#StopVNtrolls: Combatting Force 47 and Cyber Censorship,” Viet Tan, February 2023,

5. Elise Thomas, “Case Study 1: Farming Facebook,” ISD, Conspiracy Clickbait series, January 19, 2022,

6. Nathaniel Gleicher, “Removing New Types of Harmful Networks,” Meta, September 16, 2021,

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