Facebook commits to keeping Vietnamese community safe

April 27, 2017 - 18:25

Monika Bickert, head of product policy at Facebook, who is visiting Việt Nam, talks with Việt Nam News about what the American social network company is doing to keep the Vietnamese Facebook community safe. 

Minister of the Ministry of Information and Communications Trương Minh Tuấn (right) receives Head of Product Policy at Facebook Monika Bickert at a meeting in Hà Nội on Thursday. — Photo Ictnews.vn
Viet Nam News

Monika Bickert, head of product policy at Facebook, who is visiting Việt Nam, talks with Việt Nam News about what the American social network company is doing to keep the Vietnamese Facebook community safe. 

Where is Việt Nam positioned in the world in terms of active Facebook users?

As of now, in Việt Nam, we have 48 million people who regularly use Facebook, and I believe, almost 30 million are logging in every day, and 45 million are logging in from their mobiles. We don’t go by country, but the Southeast Asian market is one of our fastest-growing regions.

Fake news and fake accounts are a growing concern for Facebook users here. What is Facebook doing to handle the problem? Will you be working with the Vietnamese government to address this issue?

Fake accounts are a concern for us as well. We are very interested in using technologies to help us enforce our policies. We have been investing in ways to identify fake accounts based on account behaviour. We have implemented some of these new technologies in the past months and have seen very positive results; we have been able to find more fake accounts.

Of course, we also want people to report things to us. The Vietnamese government can report contacts to us if they think that those are violating policies, and so can every person on Facebook. The policy we apply to deal with fake accounts is the same no matter who we get the report from. We prioritise it and try to review reports within 24 hours and remove accounts that are fake.

Do you have plans to help the Vietnamese government prevent and remove content that is against the country’s laws and culture?

It is important for us to keep the dialogue going with governments, including the government of Viet Nam. If they make us aware of content considered illegal, it will go through the same process like anywhere in the world: first, does it violate our standards? If it doesn’t, then we have our legal team look at the request to evaluate the legality of the content. Facebook is willing to work with the Vietnamese government, as with any government in the world.

What kind of collaboration is Facebook working on with the Vietnamese government to prevent the publishing of content that violates laws here?

I’ll briefly say that I don’t have much to share right now about the meeting with the Vietnamese government, other than to say that this is a normal part of my job, and our job, which is to make sure that we are communicating with the communities we serve, and that includes civil society group and government officials. I do that regularly.

I can, however, share how we generally interact with governments, because the way we do that with Viet Nam is the same way we do it across the world.

Sometimes, governments request us to remove content that is illegal in that specific country. When we receive such requests, we check if it violates the Facebook Community Standards (e.g. bullying, violent content, hateful speeches). Often it will, because as you know, if it is hate speeches, it violates our standards, and it is easy for us to remove them.

If it does not violate our standards, we bring in our legal team. There is a process by which we work with the government to understand how it violates their law, and our legal team will assess whether or not the content does violate the said law. If yes, Facebook prohibits its appearance; we make that content unavailable in that country.

We will then publish that request in the government request record, which we release every six months. If you look at our last government request record for Viet Nam, you will see that there was no request from the government. We have another report coming out quite soon.

Considering the steady rise in the number of active users in Việt Nam, does Facebook plan to start a Vietnamese helpdesk or education platform?

People will only come to Facebook if it’s a safe place to connect and share with the people they care about. Our Safety Center is a frequently-used resource. We recently updated the Safety Center, with significant inputs from the Facebook community. For example, people asked for more video content, and the new site includes eight different videos about policies, products and resources Facebook offers. We have promoted these in our community in Viet Nam.

The Safety Centre and Bullying Prevention Hub is available in over 50 languages, including Vietnamese. We are always keen to work with partners, schools, and communities who can help us raise awareness of these safety resources. — VNS