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Ever since Facebook’s launch in 2004, the young and talented programmer, Mark Zuckerberg, has been on everyone’s radar. A representative of Facebook Vietnam, Huynh Kim Tuoc, recently confirmed that Zuckerberg is in Hanoi. Mark Zuckerberg and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, arrived in Vietnam on December 22 on a two-week visa.
The communist southeast Asian country may not allow its citizens to use Facebook, but that did not stop the couple from spending Christmas there. According to the Associated Press, Mark Zuckerberg and Chan spent Christmas Eve in Ha Long Bay. The couple has been dating since Zuckerberg was a sophomore at Harvard.
Vietnam Net reports, “Zuckerberg and his group of nine members spent a night on the Ha Long Bay, which has been recognized as one of the new natural wonders of the world. The Facebook’s CEO rowed a kayak himself to make an excursion on the bay and then visited some caves of the bay.”
Since Mark Zuckerberg and Chan were accompanied by nine others, this visit may have been more than a romantic getaway. It is no secret that Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be accepted in communist countries like Vietnam and China. Indeed, it was this time last year when Zuckerberg and Chan made a surprise visit to Thailand and China. However, the Vietnamese mass media believes that the trip was strictly for pleasure. Some sources have said that the couple would go to the Con Dao Island, a well-known site in Vietnam. According to the Vietnamese website, Tuoitre News, the pair has spent about $6,000 on traveling by a private helicopter.
Vietnam Net reports that Facebook has 4 million members in Vietnam. Some sources say that during Mark Zuckerberg’s stay in Vietnam, he would meet with Nguyen Trong Khoa, the founder of thatlac.com.vn, a networking site that helps people reunite with those whom they’ve lost contact with. Khoa was the marketing director of FPT (General Corporation for Financing the Promoting Technology); however, he left the group in 2009 to start his own business.
According to the Wall Street Journal, diplomats in Hanoi say the government is worried that if access to Facebook is given, uprisings like those in the Middle East may happen as people would be able to organize protests. As a result, most of Vietnam’s population of 90 million cannot access Facebook. People around the world see this blockage as a way of limiting freedom of speech and expression in the country.
Until today, it is still unknown when Facebook’s CEO will return home to the United States.
Image Courtesey of http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/