When Facebook took off in Vietnam about a decade ago, it was like a “revolution,” said two of the company’s early employees in Asia. For the first time, people across the country could communicate directly about current affairs. Users posted about police abuse and government waste, poking holes in the propaganda of the ruling Communist Party. “It felt like a liberation,” said one of the Facebook employees, “and we were part of it.”
Every year, around April 30th (the date of the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War), Viet Tan’s social media accounts are targeted by cyberattacks from Vietnamese state trolls. This year, the trolls launched their offensive as early as April 28th, and it lasted until May 5th.
Force 47 abuses Facebook’s safety tools to silence government critics at home and anywhere in the world. The military-backed group manipulates Facebook’s moderation tools to silence dissenting speech.
Vietnam has deployed an army of online trolls and cyber troops who are spreading not just disinformation but also conducting vicious hate campaigns against human rights activists and suspected critics of the state.
The extent of the operations of these trolls is detailed in a new report released by the human rights watchdog Viet Tan.
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.
In a new report titled “#StopVNtrolls — Combatting Force 47 and Cyber Censorship”, Viet Tan exposes the harmful networks that have been responsible for coordinated social harm and supressing public discourse in Vietnam. The paper provides recommendations to Meta in order to cultivate a safe and authentic online environment.