Vietnamese Government ‘Opinion Shapers’ Target Activist Facebook Pages

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In recent weeks, well-known Vietnamese activists have found themselves suddenly unable to log in to their Facebook accounts. Their personal pages have been suspended for “abuse” even though there was no apparent violation of any Facebook policy.

According to Angelina Trang Huynh, who temporarily lost access to her Facebook account earlier this month, the culprit is the Vietnamese government’s online army, known as “opinion shapers” (“dư luận viên”). These opinion shapers used Facebook’s “report abuse” system to orchestrate an onslaught of reports that likely led Facebook to suspend the targeted accounts.

With 25 million Vietnamese users, Facebook is the social network in the country. Since Facebook took off in Vietnam in 2009, authorities have tried unsuccessfully to restrict its explosive growth and role as a medium for free expression.

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