by Khanh Duong
The Vietnamese government, finally, has caught up with the rest of world and entered the Facebook age.
Last week, the Government said it launched a trial page named "Government Information". The new registration has been widely welcomed by over 30,000 users who clicked "like" in less than 24 hours from the launch.
As one of those people, I found a wide range of information about Government directives, administration, policies and the activities of the Prime Minister and other deputy prime ministers.
Previously, Government information was only posted on chinhphu.vn or sent to press agencies and journalists via email. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, there is a vast array of Government, State and agency websites that were barely visited as they offered little in the way of interaction.
From now on, netizens are no longer passive in one-way communication, but are offered opportunities to express what they think by adding comments to each post in open discussions.
"I think it will bring more democratic input into policy-making and improve the quality of Government," Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son told Dan tri newspaper.
Newspapers have only published information they feel is pertinent, while other information which may also be useful to people has been omitted or not fully published, according to Vi Quang Dao, general director of the Government's website. That's why the Government had started the page on Facebook to make information more accessible.
Bloomberg News reported the remarkable event's aim was "in order to reach young Internet-savvy users who turn to it for news and discourse".
Hoang Tuan Anh, 24, a manager at a Ha Noi-based private English centre said: "Young Facebook users are now flooded with entertainment news on social networks. If we tap the full potential of the Government's Facebook page, I think it will be a good source for youths to learn about other fields such as education and health"
Le Huy Khoi, 67, a retired teacher living in HCM City, expressed his concern over unfavorable opinions when Facebook users are freely allowed to post their comments without control of administrators.
For me, lively and wide-ranging debates seem unavoidable, especially on a forum that brings people from all walks of life.
The appearance of the Vietnamese Government on the world's biggest social network is not new compared to other nations.
Using Facebook as a tool to disseminate information and create two-way conversations between citizens and the State has been applied for years in other countries. Instead of talking to the public over the radio or TV, many state leaders have begun to interact with their people via social networks.
Barack Obama is an outstanding example of taking full advantage of social media as a major campaign strategy to win the US presidential race.
The Vietnamese Government's decision shows the open-mindedness of its leading officials.
"It is impossible to ban people from uploading information to the internet," said PM Nguyen Tan Dung earlier this year.
He supports the dissemination of official and accurate information on social networks.
Seven months ago, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien was the first Vietnamese leader to open a personal Facebook account as a channel to provide information and receive questions regarding healthcare from the public.
I think the Government's efforts to follow the global trend should not be ended with a pilot project, but expanded into an official page with practical information.
Once the page is officially put into operation, the Government will contact Facebook to verify the page by adding a blue check mark showing its authenticity, so people will no longer be confused with fake pages.
Facebook is a virtual world, but hopefully its influence will be real. It is time for citizens to be heard and thoroughly understood. — VNS