United States President Obama’s visited Vietnam recently. During his visit the country limited access to Facebook.
Earlier this month Vietnam blocked Facebook on account of coverage of citizen protests which spread across the social network, which counts more than 30 million members in Vietnam.
Facebook did not immediately respond requests for comment.
The reason for the shutoff appears to be national elections, with activists telling Reuters that the social network was muted to prevent pro-democracy activists calling for a boycott.
“Internet shutdowns must never be allowed to become the new normal,” Access Now wrote on its website. “Often justified in the name of public safety, shutdowns instead cut off access to vital information, e-financing, and emergency services, plunging whole societies into fear and destabilizing the internet’s power to support small business livelihoods and drive economic development.”
The group also argued that censorship impacts trade and business, which was one of the mission statements behind Obama’s trip.
Facebook was initially blocked in Vietnam when the social network became popular in Southeast Asia five or so years ago. That initially led to a glut of localized services rising to take its place, however Facebook has become a mainstream service among Vietnam’s 90 million population in recent years.
Vietnam is far from the only country to flex its muscles to suppress social network, there are plenty of examples aside from the obvious regime of China. Vietnam’s neighbor Thailand briefly blocked Facebook less than a week after a military coup in May 2014, while Turkey’s government has restricted access to Twitter and Facebook multiple times, and Pakistan only lifted a three-year ban on YouTube this year. Elsewhere, Malaysia continues to block Medium following investigative reporting on corruption claims related to its Prime Minister.
However you can always unblock Facebook using a VPN.