The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications is always tough when it comes to cracking down on websites that go against what they committed to, a deputy minister has said, shortly after two popular websites were shut down over inappropriate content last week.
The ministry maintains a tough fight against websites that violate the law or copyrighted content, as well as those which operate against what they have promised to do when they applied for a license, deputy minister Truong Minh Tuan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview published Sunday.
Tuan reiterated the vow to fight bad websites when asked about the cases of haivl.com, the Vietnamese equivalent of 9GAG, and 2sao.vn, a gossip news website.
“These are the two latest crackdowns we have conducted,” Tuan said, adding the two websites “have committed many violations.”
2sao.vn is operated by newswire VietNamNet, while haivl.com is run by APPVL Vietnam.
“Haivl.com has allowed vulgar and pornographic photos, as well as offensive pictures about famous Vietnamese people, to appear on their website,” Tuan elaborated.
Modeling the California-based 9GAG, haivl.com solicits content from its users, who upload comical photos and videos to share with others.
The social media site was on Friday fined VND250 million (US$9,649) for “severely breaching laws on digital content on the Internet,” only two weeks after it was bought by online ad agency 24h Online Advertising JSC in a $1.5 million deal.
APPVL also lost its license to operate haivl.com as a social media site.
“The license is revoked forever,” Tuan pressed, when asked if it is only a temporary cancelation.
“We would have clearly specified how many months the website would lose its license for if it had been a temporary cancelation.
The website was officially shut down on Friday night and there is no chance for the company to correct its mistakes.”
Tuan said the ministry had repeatedly reprimanded the website operator for its inappropriate content.
“Haivl.com has 37 million visitors and 4 million likes on Facebook, and most of its readers are youths and students,” he said.
“If we do not strictly crack down on this website, it will adversely affect the mindset and morality of young people.”
The Ministry of Information and Communications has transferred the haivl.com case to police to determine what, if any, other violations the company committed, according to the deputy minister.
Asked what the ministry would do if the company behind haivl.com rebuilds the website using an overseas hosting service, Tuan said the ministry “will have the technological measures to handle it.”
Founded on May 7, 2012, Haivl received hundreds of uploads of funny and troll pictures, videos or memes on a daily basis.
Its operator, APPVL, reportedly generates monthly revenue of around VND800 million ($37,654).
Prior to the Friday shutdown, it was the 13th-most visited website in Vietnam, with 37 million visitors.
APPVL was founded by Vo Thanh Quang, born in 1989, an alumnus of Vietnam’s FPT University, which trains computer engineers and programmers.
Haivl.com is now inaccessible, with a message reading “Haivl is temporarily closed. Thank you for your sympathy,” greeting visitors.