Facebook was shut down in Vietnam for Obama’s visit
Access was restricted to prevent activists from planning protests.
By Sara Morrison
May 27, 2016
The Vietnamese government shut Facebook down during President Obama’s visit last week, according to activist groups.
Reuters reports that Access Now and Viet Tan believe access to Facebook was restricted and at times blocked entirely while Obama was in the country, apparently to stop activists from organizing protests to call attention to human rights violations happening in their country.
It’s not unusual for social media access to be blocked in Vietnam when its government wants to quell dissent. Up until a few years ago, Facebook wasblocked as a rule, but apparently that was easily bypassed, as millions of Vietnamese still used it. Those who can access the platform must make sure they don’t post anything that could be interpreted as opposing the government or threatening national security, according to social media regulations passed in 2013.
Facebook and Instagram were similarly blocked in the days before Obama’s visit, as thousands marched down Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to protest the mysterious death of tons of fish along about 130 miles of coastline. There have also been arrests of journalists and bloggers who have reported on politically sensitive issues. One BBC reporter said his press credentials were revoked after he was suspected of meeting with a Vietnamese dissident.
Not appearing to have any issues, however, was one Anthony Bourdain, who posted a photo of his dinner date with Obama. They enjoyed “cheap but delicious noodles” and “cold Hanoi beer.” Bourdain picked up the tab, saving the taxpayers $6.