How to deal with social media without lots of cash

Posted on April 22, 2015  /  0 Comments

It’s interesting that Viet Nam’s Communist Party does not prohibit social media unlike its counterpart in China:

In January Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam’s prime minister, told senior members of the Communist Party that it was “impossible” to block social media, and that the government should make more effort to put out “correct” information through them.

Vietnam’s 40m internet-users live in one of the better-connected countries in South-East Asia. Around 45% of Vietnamese are online (roughly the same proportion as in China). In the region, only Malaysia and Singapore have higher penetration rates. The use of social media has leapt—by two-fifths in the past year alone, according to one estimate.

Vietnam patrols the internet with a relatively light touch. In China both Twitter and Facebook are banned by censors. In Vietnam Twitter is accessible though not commonly used. Facebook is the country’s most-visited website, ahead of Google’s search engine. Attempts to block it have been sporadic and half-hearted.

The report in the Economist.

The explanation is Gyanendra’s Law, read with the Than Shwe exception:

I propose a new law, named after the former King of Nepal: Gyanendra’s Law. This law states that a regime that shuts down communication systems will not last.

However, like most ‘social’ laws, Gyanendra’s Law has exceptions. Shutting down parts of networks does not count. The Rajapaksa government of Sri Lanka shut down networks in conflict areas and lives to tell the tale. Then again, there weren’t that many telephones or internet connections in those parts to begin with, thanks to Prabhakaran. When a country has almost no landline and internet connections, the government can get away with shut-downs. This is the Than Shwe Exception, named after the leader of the country with the second lowest number of mobiles after North Korea.

The full article I wrote back in 2011.

There are simply too many Facebook connections in Viet Nam.

So how does the ban work in China? With a lot of money.

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