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ONI map shows social media censorship in Gulf

OpenNet Initiative reveals data on most frequently blocked social media sites around the world

ONI map shows Flickr is blocked in the UAE but not in other Gulf countries like Jordan, Oman, Qatar or Saudi Arabia.
ONI map shows Flickr is blocked in the UAE but not in other Gulf countries like Jordan, Oman, Qatar or Saudi Arabia.
The UAE blocks Flickr, Orkut and selectively censors YouTube.
The UAE blocks Flickr, Orkut and selectively censors YouTube.

According to research by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), popular social media sites are being restricted or blocked entirely in one or more Middle Eastern countries.

ONI's new worldwide Social Media Filtering Map shows where Facebook, Flickr, Orkut, Twitter and YouTube have been censored "at any point since their creation". In it, Twitter was the only site that had no evidence of being blocked from countries in the Middle East, despite the fact that it remained inaccessible in the UAE until late 2008.

The map does however show that Syria blocks Facebook and YouTube entirely, while the United Arab Emirates ‘selectively' blocks YouTube videos and completely restricts access to Flickr. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia don't allow access to Orkut either.

"ONI testing reveals that the UAE filters still target social networking sites, video and photo sharing sites, bookmarking services, and blogging services. However, filtering of these sites has not been consistent," the OpenNet Initiative writes about the country, using the example of Livejournal.com which was briefly blocked in 2008 after it was categorised as a dating site in the database of the SmartFilter software used by the country.

SmartFilter is a product of Secure Computing, which has since been acquired by McAfee.

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