Public opinion brigades
Similar to Russia's Web brigades and China's 50 Cent Army, participants report that they are organized into teams and groups of commentators that participate in Vietnamese and international political blogs and Internet forums using sockpuppets and large-scale orchestrated trolling and disinformation campaigns to promote pro-Vietnamese communist propaganda. It has also been found that Wikipedia articles were targeted by Vietnamese communist internet propaganda activities.
It is unclear how the brigades started since the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPVN) often controls political information. However, the earliest form of Internet propaganda supporting CPVN seems to have begun in 2007, when the Government announced to "eliminate any wrong news that threaten the Party's rule". As the Communist Party is the only party allowed by Vietnamese constitution, it was the beginning of the brigades. In 2017, Lieutenant-General Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy head of the Vietnamese military’s political department, confirmed that Vietnam has a new, 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit to counter criticisms of the government on the Internet.The cyber unit named Force 47 is active in several sectors.
Force 47 is a large cyberspace military unit of Vietnam revealed in December 2017 with a focus on combating "wrong views" on the Internet. Internet security firms such as Volexity and FireEye report pro-Hanoi or Hanoi regime-sponsored hackers installed spyware on anti-government, dissident websites to track who visits them.
The methods used are not always clear, but includes criticism of opposing views to those of the Communist Party. Vietnamese nationalists, dissidents and anti-communists claim that the CPVN has been doing this for a long time, to brainwash people's minds and distort and truth, branding who disagree with the Communist Party as "traitors of the nation".
BBC and Deutsche Welle correspondents have also reported about the brigades' activities. Other Governments also accused Vietnamese Communist Party's troll army for attacking and hacking websites that criticize the CPVN.
Distortion of History?
There are claims that the CPVN has attempted to rewrite history, including war crimes by North Vietnam during Vietnam War having been completely erased to serve the Party's agenda, promoting only themselves as the "heros" of Vietnam.
- Black propaganda
- Cyberwarfare in Russia
- Fake news website
- Information warfare
- Internet activism
- Internet police
- PLA Unit 61398, Chinese PLA online hacking & malware implantation unit
- State-sponsored Internet propaganda in other countries:
- Information security
- Vatnik (slang)
- Reed, John (26 December 2017). "Vietnam army reveals 10,000-strong cyber warfare unit". Financial Times.
- "Vietnam unveils 10,000-strong cyber unit to combat 'wrong views'". Reuters. December 26, 2017.
- "Vietnam censors to fight 'internet chaos'". BBC News. 27 December 2017.
- Vietnam unveils 10,000-strong cyber unit to combat 'wrong views', Reuters, December 26, 2017
- Hookway, James (31 December 2017). "Introducing Force 47, Vietnam's New Weapon Against Online Dissent". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- Nga Pham (12 January 2013), Vietnam admits deploying bloggers to support government, BBC News
- Vietnam: Challenges and Opportunities for Freedom of Expression, Internet Freedom Festival, 2016