Amnesty International has taken aim at Facebook, YouTube and Google as the number of activists imprisoned for expressing their opinion online in Vietnam reaches a record high.
According to Aljazeera, Amnesty says 69 of the 170 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam are in jail because of their online activism.
In a report published on Tuesday, 1 December, Amnesty also said that the Vietnamese government’s efforts to silence dissent have resulted in the imprisonment of a high record number of activists who are serving jail time for their online work.
“In the last decade, the right to freedom of expression flourished on Facebook and YouTube in Vietnam,” Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns said in a statement.
“Today, these platforms have become hunting grounds for censors, military cyber-troops and state-sponsored trolls. The platforms themselves are not merely letting it happen, they’re increasingly complicit,” she said.
In March, Facebook agreed to censor, or geo-block, content deemed anti-state in Vietnam after facing intense pressure from the government, the company stresses that this only affects posts that violate local laws.
Facebook is the most popular and profitable platform in Vietnam, according to Amnesty. In 2018, Facebook’s income from Vietnam neared $1bn almost one-third of all its revenue from Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, Google, which owns YouTube, raked in $475m during the same period, mainly from online advertising, the human rights group said.
“The size of these profits underlines the importance for Facebook and Google of maintaining market access in Vietnam, Amnesty noted.
Analysts say the jailing of journalists and activists are a regular occurrence ahead of Vietnam’s national congress, where a five year economic plan and leadership changes are decided by the Communist party.