Global Voices has an excellent article looking at Facebook and its rise in Vietnam one year after the government blocked the social network.
When Vietnam blocked Facebook, everyone was talking about a smaller China. One year after the government’s endeavor, Facebook Vietnam tells another story. Not only does Vietnam remain on the list of 10 countries with the fastest growth of Facebook users, Facebook marketing is enjoying a boom in this country with Facebook marketing agencies mushrooming all over Internet.
Why do Vietnameses till use Facebook even after the government blocked it? The answer is simple: Because they can. If users in China have to pay for a VPN and go through a painful process to gain access to Facebook and other blocked websites, people in Vietnam just need to change their DNS settings and enjoy a full Internet experience for free.
This explanation reminds me of an excellent set of comparisons used in this Global Post article on Facebook in Vietnam from last year:
Vietnam’s answer to China’s Great Firewall is more of a smoldering bamboo fence — an inconvenience more than an outright prohibition
The remainder of the Global Voices article assesses the growth of Facebook marketing in Vietnam, while it will come as little surprise to see that many are predicting big things for the social network in the country:
The recent visit of Javier Olivan, Facebook’s Head of International Growth at Facebook, to Vietnam suggested that Vietnam will be soon taken care of. “They should”, said [CEO of Click Media Vo Thanh] Cuong. “Vietnam is not a small market at all.” With a population of 90 millions and Internet penetration rate of 27.5%, Vietnam is definitely not small.
Indeed as I’ve covered before, Yahoo has shown the possibilities of the web in Vietnam, for those able to work locally amongst the system, while the potential for mobile owner and industry growth in the country is likely to spur yet more Facebook and social network users in the country. While Facebook has been hiring in the country since it put out an ad for a development and policy manager back in October.
As the industry around Facebook and the company itself grow in Vietnam, so the possibility that the government might refresh and strengthen its ‘bamboo curtain’ seems more unlikely. Vietnam is certainly unique in having an easily bypassed block.