By Bloomberg
December 27, 2017

Vietnam is deploying a 10,000-member military cyber warfare unit to combat what the government sees as a growing threat of “wrongful views” proliferating on the internet, according to local media.

Force 47 has worked pro-actively against distorted information, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy head of the general politics department under the Vietnam People’s Military. The disclosure of the unit comes as the Communist government pressures YouTube Inc. and Facebook Inc. to remove videos and accounts seen damaging the reputations of leaders or promoting anti-party views.

Facebook this year removed 159 accounts at Vietnam’s behest, while YouTube took down 4,500 videos, or 90 percent of what the government requested, according to VietnamNet news, which cited Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan last week. The National Assembly is debating a cybersecurity bill that would require technology companies to store certain data on servers in the country.

In recent years, Vietnam has opened its doors to Silicon Valley, including Alphabet Inc. That’s unlike China, which blocked Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc., paving the way for local services such as WeChat, QQ, Baidu Inc. and Weibo Corp. to flourish.

‘Bad’ Content

Vietnam’s youthful population — almost 60 percent are under 35 — has made the country a leader globally in terms of penetration of social networks, according to EMarketer Inc. More than 60 percent of Vietnamese are online, according to Nghia.

Representatives for Facebook and YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Facebook, which has a process for governments to report illegal activity, removes content such as fake accounts and hate speech that violate its policies, Facebook said in a statement this fall. Alphabet Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt vowed during a May meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi to work with Vietnam against “bad” content on YouTube, according to a government website post.

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