A blog with an anonymous author has emerged as a popular source for behind-the-scenes information on Vietnamese politics.
Portrait of Power, or Chan Dung Quyen Luc, has attracted nearly 14 million visits since its launch a month ago. It publishes documents and photos alleging massive corruption among some cabinet members and their relatives.
Pham Chi Dung, chairman of an independent group of reporters, said he thinks politicians are rattled by the blog – and by its unclear provenance.
"The confusion over who owns the blog that posts exclusive and credible information would lead to suspicion among party members, affecting the unity of the party, especially [because] there is reportedly infighting," he said.
With media under scrutiny from state watchdogs, Vietnamese increasingly are turning to social media in search of unconfirmed news that is not covered by mainstream press, said blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh, a former journalist at the state-run newspaper Thanh Nien.
"Vietnamese media is more like a propaganda tool under control of the party," the blogger said. "That is why Portrait of Power has captivated readers with news that turns out to be reliable and correct, drawing huge traffic to the blog in a short period of time."
No official response
Vietnamese authorities have not officially responded to the blog’s allegations. But the People’s Daily has published an editorial implying the blog "fabricates" information to tarnish the image of Vietnamese leaders.
Meanwhile, state-run media have quoted Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as saying it's impossible to ban social media such as Facebook, so authorities instead should provide accurate information to inform public opinion.
The state-run newspaper Thanh Nien, or Young People, reported that the prime minister on Thursday told officials that people would believe correct and timely information if the government provides it.
Facebook users have complained about difficulties accessing the site, but Hanoi denies it has tried to block it.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.