Vietnam says Google will help remove "toxic" content from platform

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Google is said to be helping Vietnam censor its platform. On Friday, the country’s government revealed that the search giant’s parent company, Alphabet, will be cooperating with Vietnam to remove so-called “toxic” and illegal information. The nation has previously borne criticism for its treatment of dissidents and anti-government personalities, having arrested many who have spoken out against the communist regime.

The Southeast Asian regime raised concerns about “offensive” content on Facebook and YouTube (the Google-owned video platform) back in February, and persuaded Vietnamese companies to hold onto their advertising budgets until the American firms were able to address government issues. And now, it seems as though at least one company has made those adjustments.

During a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on Friday, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt assured Vietnam’s officials that the company would work closely alongside the administration to uphold the country’s laws.

“Mr. Eric Schmidt said (he) will tightly cooperate with Vietnam to remove toxic information violating Vietnamese laws and will consider opening a representative office in the country,” the Vietnamese government said in a statement on its website.

However, Google has its separate account of these discussions, with spokesman Taj Meadows telling Reuters, “We have clear policies for removal requests from governments around the world, and those policies have not changed.” He continued, “We rely on governments to notify us of content that they believe is illegal through official processes, and where appropriate, will restrict it after a thorough review.”

The prime minister was not the only person with whom Schmidt met during his visit to Vietnam. In fact, Schmidt held an audience with Vietnamese singer and activist Mai Khoi, who told Reuters, “I told Eric about Vietnam’s internet censorship issue and he said he knew about it and would try to improve internet freedom here in a delicate way.”