Vietnam’s most popular irreverent image, GIF and video sharing website haivl.com, the country's answer to 9Gag, has been shut down and fined VND205 million (US$9,500) by the authorities due to "serious violations" of current regulations.
The satirical website, which boasted 37 million visits per day, made headlines earlier this month after news popped up that a local ad agency, 24h Online Advertising JSC agreed to invest a rumored VND33 billion (US$1.5) million in it.
According to a decision dated Oct. 24 issued by the country's Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, the authority has withdrawn the license of "online service provider" of the website owner, Hanoi-based APPVL Company.
The company "seriously violated regulations related to online electronic information," the authority, an agency under the Ministry of Information and Communication, said without elaboration.
The decision, which apparently took effect immediately, practically closed down haivl.com. As of 11pm on Oct. 24, visitors to the site could only see a blank page with the message "Haivl temporarily ceases operation."
In a separate decision issued the same day, the authority also fined APPVL Company a total of VND205 million for various violations, including "providing, exchanging and spreading information which distorted history and dishonored national heroes."
The company can appeal against the decision at a court, the authority also said.
A fanpage of haivl.com boasts more than 4.4 million "Likes."
The shutting down of haivl.com followed recent punishments imposed by the Ministry of Information and Communication in what seems to be a crackdown on content-related violations of local news websites.
The ministry inspectorate on Oct. 23 suspended the license of the news website 2sao.vn for a period of three months for publishing an article that "dishonored nation's great men" and failing to give proper credit to authors in some other articles.
The website owner, Vietnamnet Company, which also runs the popular news website vietnamnet.vn and 2sao.vn, was fined VND55 million.
The inspectorate has also proposed that authorities of Khanh Hoa and Ho Chi Minh City to "strictly deal" with two websites that published "lewd content," and another which "published articles with law-violating content."