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Vietnam's Government Launches its Own Version of Facebook




This picture taken on May 20, 2010 shows the home page of the Vietnam's pilot social networking site go.vn which has just been launched. The Vietnamese government has launched its own social networking site, after allegations that it restricted Facebook and haked numerous websites with political content. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

This picture taken on May 20, 2010 shows the home page of the Vietnam's pilot social networking site go.vn which has just been launched. The Vietnamese government has launched its own social networking site, after allegations that it restricted Facebook and haked numerous websites with political content. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

The Internet poses a challenge for authoritarian regimes around the world. But Vietnam's leaders think they have figured out a new way to tame it - by launching their own, Communist-friendly answer to popular social-networking sites like Facebook.

It's called go.vn, and like Facebook, it has features such as tagging, poking, and defriending. The site even has things that are otherwise not available on Facebook, such as videogames; a stream of news on the home page that includes items such as local beauty queens, news of a South Carolina fisherman who caught a fish that had human-like teeth; and a contest featuring a band of militants bent on stopping the spread of global capitalism. Sounds fun, right?

Wrong. If you thought Facebook had questionable privacy guidelines, think again.

Since Facebook is conveniently banned in Vietnam, entering its URL into a search tab will automatically redirect you to go.vn. On the site, users have to register their first and last names, along with a government issued identification number. Which means the government is keeping a watchful eye on the user's activity at all times.

Hard to say how successful it will be. For one, the efforts of the government to include video games in trying to appeal to a younger audience will always have that cringe-worthy, watching-your-dad-dance-at-a-wedding feel to them.

Is it time for citizens under oppressive governments to defriend their governments to demand a liberty that the West takes for granted? Join the discussion below:

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