Facebook unwelcome in Vietnam, but Zuckerberg OK
HANOI — Vietnam may block its citizens from using Facebook, but that didn't stop website founder Mark Zuckerberg from vacationing in the communist country.
Zuckerberg spent Christmas Eve in the popular tourist destination Ha Long Bay, local official Trinh Dang Thanh says.
State-run media say Zuckerberg arrived in Vietnam on Dec. 22.
Zuckerberg spent Christmas Day at an ecolodge in the northern mountain town of Sapa and rode a buffalo, said Le Phuc Thien, deputy manager at Topas Ecolodge.
Zuckerberg, Facebook's 27-year-old CEO, founded the social networking site in 2004.
Vietnam's aggressive Internet censors block access to Facebook and other websites, but young Vietnamese easily bypass the restrictions.
The Associated Press - December 27, 2011
Zuckerberg gets easier ride in Vietnam than his website
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg chose a perhaps surprising destination for the holiday season: Vietnam, where the social-networking site is frequently blocked by local Communist authorities.
After arriving in Hanoi, local newspapers reported that Mr Zuckerberg, his girlfriend and group of other friends visited the popular tourist destination Ha Long Bay before travelling to Sapa in northern Vietnam, where local hotel manager Le Phuc Thien said the 27-year-old billionaire rode a buffalo.
But while Mr Zuckerberg might be enjoying himself in the country, Facebook itself does not have quite so smooth a ride.
Access to the site is often difficult in the single-party state, earning Vietnam stinging criticism from the US and other governments that say the policy limits freedom of expression and potentially crimps contact between Vietnamese businesses and the outside world.
Web-savvy Vietnamese have found numerous ways to circumvent the block, but the restrictions often present a public relations black-eye for Vietnam's leaders -- and a business challenge for Facebook in a country of 90 million people where internet access is growing quickly.
While Facebook's representative in Vietnam told state-run media there that Mr Zuckerberg's trip is purely a personal one, the publication of pictures in state-run media of him riding a buffalo and a mountain bike might also enable Facebook to present itself in a less threatening light.
It is a big ask, though. Diplomats in Hanoi say Vietnamese authorities are apprehensive of the impact of social-networking sites such as Facebook. This fear was heightened by the way activists in the Middle East this year used sites like Facebook and Twitter to organize ground-breaking protests there.
Mr Zuckerberg could not immediately be reached for comment.
He does, however, have a track record of going to places where his brainchild is viewed with suspicion. Last year Mr Zuckerberg went to China, where Facebook has also fallen afoul of local authorities' firewalls.
The Wall Street Journal / Newscore - December 28, 2011
Facebook founder spends Christmas Eve in Ha Long Bay
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his girl friend Pricilla Chan spent Christmas Eve on a cruise ship on Ha Long Bay.
They were spotted first at a cell phone shop in Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel on December 23 and the information quickly spread on the Internet.
Local news media on Friday quoted witnesses as saying that they saw Zuckerberg and Chan on Thursday visiting the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, known as the "Hanoi Hilton," where American prisoners of war were held during the Vietnam War.
A source told Thanh Nien that the couple departed from Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport in the morning on December 24 on two EC 155-B1 helicopters hired from the Northern Vietnam Helicopter Company.
Mark and his friends flew in one helicopter while the other was for their two guards, it said, adding that the payment for the two helicopters was about US$20,000.
A Quang Ninh tourism official told Thanh Nien on condition of anonymity that one of the helicopters landed on a hill at Bai Chay.
Zuckerberg and his entourage of eight people hired the Phoenix cruise ship and left the mainland at around 11:30 p.m. to cruise Bo Nau and Sung Sot caves in Ha Long Bay, another source told Thanh Nien.
Mark and his entourage spent the night in the bay and also rowed kayaks there.
On December 25, they visited other places in the bay before departing for Sa Pa by helicopter.
Earlier, a representative of Facebook in Vietnam confirmed that Zuckerberg and his girlfriend are in Vietnam for the Christmas holiday, according to local news website VietNamNet.
The report quoted Huynh Kim Tuoc, Growth Manager of Facebook in Vietnam, as saying that the company has confirmed that "Zuckerberg has arrived in Hanoi on December 12."
His trip is "personal and not related whatsoever to his work at Facebook," the report quoted Tuoc as saying.
According to comScore, Vietnam is a one of only seven markets where Facebook does not have the largest audience in the social networking category. The other markets are Brazil, China, Japan, Poland, Russia and South Korea.
Zuckerberg and Chan also made a low profile trip to China and Thailand for last year's Christmas holiday.
Thanh Nien News - December 25, 2011
Mark Zuckerberg to spend 2nd night in Sa Pa
une on his Sa Pa trip.
The young billionaire is also expected to visit the Silver Waterfall, 13 km west of Sa Pa, Dan Tri Newswire reported.
This Monday evening, he and his delegation are to spend the second night in Sa Pa at either the Victoria Sa Pa Hotel or the Chau Long Hotel or the Cong Doan Hotel, Dan Tri Newswire quoted Le Duc Luan, chairman of Sa Pa District People’s Committee as saying.
According to Luan, since Zuckerberg’s visit is personal, the company in charge of his trips are not authorized to provide information to the press.
Before the Ha Long Bay trip, Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Priscilla Chan were Thursday spotted visiting the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, also known as the Hanoi Hilton prison in Hanoi where American prisoners of war were held during the Vietnam War.
He was also spotted touring Hoan Kiem Lake.
The couple visited a shop selling luxury Vertu mobile phone in Hanoi on Ngo Quyen Street on Friday in Hanoi but his bodyguards prevented any access from fans.
Zuckerberg was granted a two-week entry visa into Vietnam from December 16.
Tuoi Tre - December 26, 2011