The government of Vietnam is calling on businesses in the country to stop advertising on the likes of YouTube, Facebook and other social media networks until they get a handle on what the government called fake news and anti-government information.
According to a report in Reuters, Information and Communication Minister Truong Minh Tuan met with the local arms of big companies, including Unilever, Ford and Yamaha, to get them to stop running ads on the social media networks. Reuters reported they all agreed during the meeting to stop advertising on YouTube. According to Reuters, in February Vietnam began pressure on Google aimed at getting YouTube to remove content from dissidents based outside of Vietnam. The minister, unsatisfied with the progress, called on the companies to do more, with the ministry saying there were roughly 8,000 anti-government videos on YouTube, and only 42 were blocked but not removed altogether.
“Today we call on all Vietnamese firms that are advertising not to abet them to take advertising money from firms to use against the Vietnamese government,” Tuan told companies at a meeting in Hanoi, according to Reuters. “We also call on all internet users to raise their voice to Google and Facebook to prevent toxic, fake content violating Vietnamese law in the online environment.”
While it’s common for government to complain about critical information that lands on social media networks — just look at President Donald Trump, for one example — but Jeff Paine, managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, which is a trade group that counts Facebook and YouTube as members, said it’s not that common for a government to ask businesses to stop advertising.
“It is critical for the Vietnamese government to protect the open nature of the internet and put in place the right conditions that incentivize investment and nurture innovation,” he said in the Reuters interview.