This Month Facebook Black out in Vietnam due to Recent Massive Protests
Facebook was definitely blocked during this month in Vietnam due to the virality of the protest that happened there. The protest was organized by the citizens who were disappointed with the actions that were taken by the company named Formosa Plastics. This big company which apparently released tremendous amount of wastewater from which the fish died in big number claims that they are not responsible for this occurrence.
What really happened?
The dead fish was a good reason for the citizens to be concerned about their environment and their health which resulted in their protests. The unhappy people held signs such as „I choose fish“ in order to show their opinion on the recent events and publicly disapprove of all the actions taken by Formosa Plastics. Furthermore, this was also a protest against the laws in Vietnam which apparently made it possible for companies such as Formosa to endanger the environment of Vietnam with all of the waste from their factories. The most important thing was that all of the protests were organized on Facebook and the number of people who attended the protest was very high.
Apart from Facebook events that invited people to join the rally, the pictures of protestants were shared a lot and the world was noticed about the problem that exists in Vietnam. Some unofficial records show that certain bans were placed on Instagram as well, since it was also the medium for spreading awareness on this topic.
Massive protests by the people of Vietnam threatened to send a bad message about the politics of this country and the government itself and thus it was decided for Facebook to be blocked completely for the weekend. Furthermore, the officials of the government such as Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources claimed that Formosa has nothing to do with all the fish being dead. The minister stated that there is a toxic algae in the waters that apparently were the main cause for this horrible tragedy.
The whole situation threatened to become violent and more than 300 protestors were arrested and many were injured during the whole process of protesting against the self-will of the government officials and the big companies.
Although it seems like it all happened at once, it was actually the people of Vietnam who kept quiet for a long time before everything escalated into a protest due to the fact that the killing of the fish has been happening for more than a month. Moreover, officials from other organizations such as UN’s High Commissioner of Human Rights expressed their concern over the amount of violence that is being used against the protestors.
The people’s way out…
A proxy service used for avoiding censorship on the internet, reported that both Facebook and Instagram were blocked in Vietnam on Sunday and that the main reason for that was probably to prevent them from further rallies which were organized via Facebook. Furthermore, it also reported the immense use of Virtual Private Networks in order to avoid all the censorship and still continue using these social media for the purpose of communication. Many people who were not familiar with the benefits that VPN provides remained cut-off from the rest of the world in terms of using Facebook and Instagram.
According to Twitter, the number of people who access this website from Vietnam by VPN increased and it was the first thing that rose suspicion on the government and their possible ban. It was later confirmed that the ban indeed took place and it is heavily speculated if it was still active. According to the numbers posted by websites such as DownDetector, the ban is still active and it is unlikely to be removed in the recent future.
The Communist government of Vietnam was unsure whether to allow social media in their country or not for a long time. This resulted in occasional allowing and disallowing of those websites in the past. However, in the recent years the government even tried to encourage the citizens to sign up on Facebook and even created the page called „Government Information“ to spread the news about the government. Therefore, the 30 million active users of Facebook in Vietnam were shocked with the ban of this social medium that happened on Sunday.
To sum up, Vietnam has come a long way when it comes to allowing social media, only to bring it all down by banning Facebook due to recent rallies organized via it. The citizens were shocked by this decision and they started using Virtual Private Networks in order to overcome the ban and still talk about the wrongdoings committed by the company named Formosa Plastics which apparently managed to kill fish in certain areas with the huge amounts of waste water released from their plants.
Update: Facebook- social network was blocked to prevent pro-democracy activists calling for a boycott. during Obama’s recent visit.