The government of Vietnam has threatened to shut down Facebook within the entire nation over the social network's continued refusal to censor more local political content, a company official disclosed to Reuters.
Facebook has faced increasing pressure from governments over its content rules. But it has also faced denunciation from rights organizations for being too submissive with state censorship petitions.
The Menlo Park, California-based company had previously controlled the flow of some political content on its platform to allay the Vietnamese government, but the move seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
For its part, Vietnam tried to roll out home-grown social media sites to compete with Facebook, but it proved futile. A Facebook official said the company hadn't noted a significant departure of Vietnamese users to the local platforms.
A company official said they made a deal with the government in April and "Facebook has upheld our end of the agreement, and we expected the government of Vietnam to do the same," The Star quoted the official as saying. Facebook does not have any full-time staff in Vietnam.
The official clarified that the Vietnamese government has sought to get Facebook to expand the capacity of content that it is restricting in the country. "We have told them no... that request came with some threats about what might happen if we didn't," Reuters reported. The Vietnamese government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday morning.
The ruling Communist Party of Vietnam keeps a tight watch of Facebook in the country, despite the government welcoming more social transformation. The social media's local servers in the country were deactivated early this year until the company agreed to specific terms of the government's stipulations.
In 2017, Vietnam ordered Facebook to regulate some so-called "anti-government" political posts for 60 million users in the country, to which the company complied. Vietnam is on the 5th spot from the bottom in a world ranking of press freedom compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
Facebook did not confirm the Reuters report to Gizmodo on Friday, but the company did suggest it was having some issues in Vietnam -- a market that is valued at around $1 billion in revenues to Facebook, analysts said.
Some of the threats that Facebook has faced include threats of new restrictions and fines. But the social media group has been spared from being banned in all but the few locations where it has never been given the green light to operate, like China.