Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang have revoked a document that aims to ban civil servants from sharing social media posts on certain topics, including politics and religion.
The People’s Committee of Chau Doc, the capital city of An Giang, confirmed with Tuoi Tre newspaper that the document, issued by the city’s Education and Training Office early this month, was not legal.
The document stated that state employees must not "like" or "share" social media posts that discuss political and religious issues, or any content that may affect personal reputation.
Officials responsible for the document said they had misinterpreted an instruction from the Department of Information and Communications.
The department confirmed that it only asked local agencies to raise awareness for more responsibility on social media, following some incidents in which civil servants posted remarks on their Facebook pages to "tarnish the images of officials" or "distort the provincial government’s policies."
Many have criticized the education office for the ban, saying that it violated freedom of speech and freedom of information.
Recently An Giang authorities announced fines against a teacher and a public utility employee for criticizing a provincial leader on Facebook.
Le Thi Thuy Trang, a literature teacher at Long Xuyen High School and Huynh Nguyen Huy Phuc, an employee at the state-owned An Giang Electricity Company, were ordered to pay VND5 million (US$223) each.
In October, Trang shared a news article about a central government’s proposal to have Vuong Binh Thanh, chairman of An Giang People’s Committee, disciplined. She commented that he "looks arrogant,” local media reported.
Phuc then commented on Trang’s post. His wife, Phan Thi Kim Nga, deputy spokeswoman of An Giang Department of Industry and Trade, also used his Facebook account to “like” and commented on the same post.
Local media this week reported that, following a strong public backlash, the province has withdrawn the fines.