In a confusing case of censorship, Saudi Arabia blocked and unblocked access to Facebook… within the same day.
Earlier this morning, Associated Press reported that Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission had banned Facebook over “moral concerns.” The ban, however, had been said to be “temporary.” So temporary, it looks like, that a few hours later the same (unidentified) official said that the ban had been lifted. No specific reasons were given for either the blocking or the unblocking.
Saudi Arabia currently has more than two million Facebook users.It would be awesome if someone living in Saudi Arabia could confirm that access to Facebook has been restored.
Earlier this year, Pakistan and Bangladesh also imposed temporary bans on Facebook, both citing “blasphemous content.” The blasphemous content, you might remember, involved uploading satirical cartoon images of Muhammed to a Facebook group called “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” Depictions of Muhammed are explicitly forbidden in some Islamic texts (not the Qur’an).
Both Pakistan and Bangladesh lifted said bans shortly after imposing it. At the time, Facebook promised Pakistan that no offensive religious material would be accessible through the social networking site. No word yet whether the same kind of “deal” was promised to Saudi Arabia.