With Mark Zuckerberg spending Christmas in Vietnam, the opportunity for some snark about the Facebook founder’s apparently ironic choice of destination was not lost. The U.K.’s Daily Mail promptly proclaimed: “Status update: Mark Zuckerberg goes for a buffalo ride with his girlfriend in Vietnam…where his Facebook site is banned.”
The communist country’s censors unofficially and intermittently block the social networking website, fearing its potential to encourage and spread dissent. But it seems they’re no match for those behind the Great Firewall of China next door.
VietNamNet reports the Southeast Asian country has four million Facebook users among its increasingly web-savvy population of around 87 million total. Zuckerberg may even have been able to update his Christmas Day status — staff at Topas Ecolodge, where the media mogul spent December 25, tell TIME that Facebook is in fact not banned at the hotel, and that it’s regularly accessed by locals and visitors alike.
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“A lot of customers and staff use it,” said a worker reached at the lodge in the northern mountain town of Sapa who asked to remain anonymous. “Some places you can, some places you cannot,” he added of the country-wide situation. Apparently where Zuckerberg’s been going, you can: His crew of friends were on their iPads during the visit and didn’t complain about any Facebook access issues.
The 27-year-old arrived in Vietnam December 22 with Chinese-American girlfriend Priscilla Chan and a group of friends. They visited Hoa Lo Prison Museum, known as the “Hanoi Hilton” where American prisoners of war were held during the Vietnam War, before moving on to Ha Long Bay, renowned for its natural beauty. The group then flew to the Ecolodge on Christmas Eve, where Zuckerberg was photographed riding a buffalo.
The trip comes after the billionaire’s low profile 2010 visit to China — another (more successful) Facebook blocker. Perhaps Zuckerberg prefers not to mix business and pleasure.
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