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Saudi Arabia Bans Facebook 227

gandhi_2 sends in a brief Associated Press piece on Saudi Arabia's blocking of Facebook. "An official with Saudi Arabia's communications authority says it has blocked Facebook because the popular social networking website doesn't conform with the kingdom's conservative values. ... He says Facebook's content had 'crossed a line' with the kingdom's conservative morals, but that blocking the site is a temporary measure." Some reports indicate that at least some individual Facebook pages can be reached from inside the kingdom. There hasn't been an official announcement; the source noted above requested anonymity. Earlier this year when Pakistan and Bangladesh banned Facebook, it was over particular content — cartoons of Mohammed — and the Saudi ban may prove similar once more details emerge.
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Saudi Arabia Bans Facebook

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  • yep... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @01:40PM (#34216214) Homepage Journal

    ... and nothing of value was lost.

    (in either direction, IMO)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by X0563511 ( 793323 )

      Hmm, actually...

      Just yesterday there was some "draw offensive depictions of Mohammed" thing going on with the explicit goal of getting them blocked.

      I wouldn't be surprised if this was related.

      • ... goddamn brain. I meant "going on on 4chan"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by poena.dare ( 306891 )

      In other news, the median Saudi IQ score went up a point.

    • Re:yep... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#34216692)
      On the contrary, the loss of the right of an entire nation of individuals to access certain media via the Internet is a tragic loss. Yes, the content in question is largely vacuous and no great loss, but the loss of the liberty is definitely not trivial.
      • Re:yep... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @03:40PM (#34216956) Homepage

        To be precise, they didn't lose liberty. They simply never had it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          Imam al-Diesel: What are you smiling about?

          Paullah al-bin-Walker: Dude, I almost had my freedom!

          Imam al-Diesel:You almost had your freedom? You never had your freedom! You never had any of your rights!

          Cut to shot of Paullah al-bin Walker standing alone in a desert

          [Directed by M. Night Shymalan]

      • Re:yep... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geckipede ( 1261408 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @03:50PM (#34217012)
        This is nowhere near the top of the list of liberties that the Saudis are lacking. Compared to everything else that's already in place, that's been in place for decades, which is accepted... yes, this is trivial.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cgenman ( 325138 )

        I find it ironic that we're spending american lives on bringing "Freedom and Democracy" to Iraq and Afghanistan, when our close friends the Saudis are a hugely oppressive monarchy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)


        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          Yes, but the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq were much worse than the weenie Saudis. Mind you, both are scared to death of women, but Saddam gassed the Kurds and the Brits uncovered about 300,000 Shi'ites in mass graves where Saddam had stored them for safe keeping. The Taliban used Al Qaeda as shock troops much like the SS, which incidentally they derive much of their philosophy. It was nothing to them to go in and kill an entire village of Hazaras (Hazaras are Shi'ite, the Taliban are Sunni, gen

        • Its also ironic that Iraq is, in many ways, more oppressive than it was under Saddam Hussein - for example, Iraqi Christians (and other religious minorities) are being driven out of the country by concerted murder and percsecution. This was entirely predictable, and the US government was warned of this by Christian groups (including the Catholic church) before the invasion.

        • I find it ironic that we're spending american lives on bringing "Freedom and Democracy" to Iraq and Afghanistan

          What's really ironic is that, in case of Afghanistan at least, neither freedom nor democracy was brought. The new Afghan constitution, approved after the "liberation", explicitly declares Afghanistan an Islamic state, and Sharia a supreme law of the land which trumps anything else. For extra fun, both of those provisions are declared as immutable, and cannot be amended in any legal way.

          This isn't just words on the paper, either. There have already been real persecutions for "blasphemy" and "apostasy" in the

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by c6gunner ( 950153 )

        Also, since he said "in either direction", I should point out that I'm extremely upset that I will no longer be able to find random burqa-clad hotties to cyber-sex with. This is a disaster of epic proportions.

      • Profoundly Islamic nations don't have "liberty", they have religious law, and that is by their choice. They violently defend that law against transgressors.

    • Re:yep... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @09:25PM (#34218950) Journal

      Not this tired theme again. We get it - you think it's cool to despise Facebook, a kind of geek goth cred. Whatever.

      For millions of people it's a way to keep in touch with friends and family which is easier and more effective than e-mail or other means, and that has value. For millions more, it's a relatively harmless diversion.

      Deal with it.

  • temporary measure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @01:41PM (#34216220) Homepage Journal

    Ya, until they can either blackmail or threaten FB into compliance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Hasler ( 414242 )

      Threaten them with what, loss of a miniscule market?

      • Not threatening Facebook as a company but I'm sure there's some crazy ass fundy willing to publicly threaten Zuckerberg's life. Hell, they did that over a South Park episode and Comedy Central caved.

        • Not threatening Facebook as a company but I'm sure there's some crazy ass fundy willing to publicly threaten Zuckerberg's life.

          I doubt that death threats are anything new to Zuckerberg. He probably gets them every day from privacy kooks.

          Hell, they did that over a South Park episode and Comedy Central caved.

          Hollywood execs are not reknowned for courage.

    • by linumax ( 910946 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:04PM (#34216370)

      Not really, unlike RIM, it's not practical or even commercially sound for Facebook to abide by KSA's "conservative values". There is also no inherent benefit on Saudi Arabia's part to have Facebook operate there. Except maybe monitoring citizens, but they already have full control over any means of communication so that's just unnecessary.

      The only reason I can see for them calling this a temporary measure is a PR move. They are shifting the blame on Facebook, saying they would unblock it as soon as it's compatible with their values. Of course everyone knows what's going on, but that's how PR works. They opened a university or two to women and last week they got elected to UN's women's rights agency. Maybe now their shooting for a position on Internet Freedoms board.


      • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @03:10PM (#34216814) Homepage

        > ...last week they got elected to UN's women's rights agency.

        You need to put "elected" in sneer quotes. The candidates for these positions are always determined in advance by backroom deals, with the number of candidates normally equalling the number of openings. This one was actually unusual in that there were 11 candidates for 10 positions. Of course, the organization itself only exists for propaganda purposes. It will not benefit women in any way (except for those female politicians who use it to futher their careers).

    • by Dzimas ( 547818 )
      The smart thing would be for FB to simply ignore them. You want to take your toys and leave because of your irrational belief in an invisible ruler of the universe? Fine.
  • A little AI and a routine to overlay an abaya on any image that looks remotely female and all is well.

    • A little AI and a routine to overlay an abaya on any image that looks remotely female and all is well.

      Micheal Jackson in an abaya. Not a bad thought ...

    • And a system that prevents women from posting on the walls of men unless they're a male relative, who by happy coincidence is likely to at some stage become their husband. Nothing says family values like boinking a first cousin.

      • Hey, if it's good enough for the Southeastern US...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Hey, if it's good enough for the Southeastern US...

          Oddly enough, except for the difference in religion, they essentially hate the same things. They both hate:

          1. Religious freedom
          2. Freedom of speech
          3. Intelligence and free thought
          4. Creativity
          5. "Elites" which are anyone who has half a brain in their head and uses it (as opposed to actual elites like the Saudi "royal" family which uses their inherited wealth to oppress people).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by tibman ( 623933 )

            Oddly enough, except for the difference in religion, they essentially hate the same things. They both hate:

            1. Religious freedom
            2. Freedom of speech
            3. Intelligence and free thought
            4. Creativity
            5. "Elites" which are anyone who has half a brain in their head and uses it (as opposed to actual elites like the Saudi "royal" family which uses their inherited wealth to oppress people).

            That is a very 4. Creative and 3. Intelligent stereotype. You sound like one of those "stick up your ass" elite types though.. the o

  • I'm not one to shed a tear for facebook but maybe ISPs should block Saudi Arabia entirely from the internet. See how they feel about censorship then.
    • by xnpu ( 963139 )

      You'll be surprised how many ISP's actually already do block certain countries. Nigeria and China are frequently blocked. Not just by ISP's, but also by websites individually. (And yes I did double-check that it was not China itself doing the blocking.)

      • I remember one time Dattebayo (wildly popular fansub group, notoriously fast and loose with the banhammers) banned the nation of Australia from all their content over a single (but very determined) Australian troll in their IRC rooms.

        I don't know if they ever got unblocked now that I think of it...

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      maybe ISPs should block Saudi Arabia entirely from the internet. See how they feel about censorship then.

      Take a look at countries like north korea and china. the dangers of external freedom are taken very seriously when they threaten to loosen their grip on the control over their people.

      They usually don't care about any repercussions simply because in their eyes, it risks everything. No cost is too high to protect their control. And they don't have to learn to live with it, just their people do. But they don't care about that unless they can't keep the riots under control. But them check out how skilled a

  • Unbanned (Score:5, Informative)

    by Loadmaster ( 720754 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:13PM (#34216430)
  • by Nrrqshrr ( 1879148 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:18PM (#34216468)
    Well, I live in one of those internet black holes, myself. Tunisia. In Tunisia, Youtube, Dailymotion, and many sites were, since 2007, blocked due to "offensive" content (read: politically dissident). What that caused was two things, mainly: More dissidence, and the banalisation of proxies. Right now kids in elementary schools know how to fiddle with proxies and DNS settings to get around the blockade, and despite the govt's sincere efforts, we still watch our vids on youtube ( French blog, sorry). At some point, FB was blocked too, but this nearly caused a riot (Yes, people didn't riot because of a tax increase but they started getting angry when they couldn't play Farmville). This, of course, tought our gov't one thing: being all official about blocking FB is an open invitation to a riot. Thus, they decided to do it diferently and now they block Tunisian IPs from certain pages with... delicate content. (this, I guess, was done hand to hand with Facebook's teams). I do not expect the Saudi gov't to hold on their bloackade for too long, they should play it the smooth way and learn rom their fellow retarded govts.
  • by $0.02 ( 618911 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:20PM (#34216474)


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:47PM (#34216660)


    I am a saudi who lives in saudi and here is my point of the story.

    Saudi's (communications and information technology) has a solution of the shelf that blocks pornographic sites automatically (we got VPN so dont worry we get our pr0ns).

    This solution keeps its own database and that external database messes up sometimes and blocks stuff that should be blocked. google and secondlife were blocked before and were unblocked. Further more, political website and radical islamic websites are blocked as requested by the government for national security.

    facebook's url that was blocked today was ( but if you use ( it works perfectly. so it apparent that the blocking was due to a mess up in the database of the off the shelf solution.

    any questions? :D

  • Today I've discovered that The Pirate Bay website is blocked in Italy. Previously the italian providers were forced to configure the DNS to resolve it as, but that was easy to circumvent. Now, the IP is totally unreacheable from Italy. To look at TPB one has to use a proxy, a tunnel, etc.

    A similar measure is in force for unauthorized gambling sites.

    I don't gamble and I don't care too much for torrents, but the very idea that my government decides which sites I can visit and which I cannot sends a

  • They ban everyone for every reason unless and until they are given a reason why not.

    The major difference between them (Wahabi) and the Taliban is that the Saud family have had money since the fifties.

    I find the same mechanisms of oppressive paternalism are also occurring in North Korea, Burma(Myanmar) Indonesia,

    Same (un)reasoning attitude.

    Same appeal to the irrational.

    Same hatred/fear of everything and everybody.

  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @04:01PM (#34217064)

    First off, a little disclaimer:

    Westerners often tend to conflate Wahhabism with Islam, but that is a critical mistake that undermines any clear understanding of the Middle East and Islam itself. The movement has taken Islam from being an unquestioned powerhouse of intellectual and cultural innovation to being perceived as a force of stagnation. Islam is not the problem, the cultural baggage that it is presently burdened with is the issue. Wahhabism itself is only a few centuries old, and in that time it has deeply undermined the perception of Islam in the Western world, and undermined the social, intellectual and economic development of those countries where it has taken root.

    It's why women went from being the closest advisors to the Prophet himself, to being deeply despised and treated as subhuman in certain corners of the Islamic world. The najib, the bourqua, the many, many restrictions on women - these came from outside of Islam, and were integrated into the narrative of what Islam is about. Many in the West fail to understand that Wahhabism and the myriad of ancient tribal customs that were given an opportunity for resurgence are not found in the Qu'ran.

    One can find the seeds of Wahhabism. The passages and the bits of text that would inspire such an interpretation, but to say it is a legitimate part of Islam would be false. (Wahhabists would strongly disagree. ;) )

    But Wahhabism is a factor that must be dealt with regardless of how legitimate it is. So here we find ourselves looking at its biggest proponent - and it's largest victim - Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia has siphoned its oil wealth off to fund the lifestyle of countless princes vaguely related to the royal family, while the rest of the young-skewing country faces unemployment and poverty.

    The ruling class has tried to embrace the radical Wahhabist interpretation of Islam and use it as a uniting force in the country, while accumulating for itself the material pleasures of modernity purchased with the natural resources of the nation. It hasn't really worked. It's resulted in the aforementioned elites living the high life, while the impoverished masses watch the encroachment of western culture they are taught to despise.

    It's a nation ruled by oppression and undermined with a deep-seated cognitive dissonance regarding technology, culture, religion and how it all interacts on a moral and practical level.

    It's a climate that is intellectually bankrupt, as it crushes new ideas while longing for the modernity it simultaneously craves / despises. It wants to mesh 16th century mores with 21st century technology. So far it has operated under the illusion that such things are possible, as the country has simply purchased what it desires from the West. But it doesn't develop much of anything on its own. The culture of Wahhabism silences innovation. It creates an environment where fear, oppression, absolutely pathological misogyny are entrenched in the social and legal fabric of the nation.

    Saudi Arabia has tried to improve its position by having students study overseas, but they quickly become deeply alienated from the world that stands so far apart from the one they come from. Ideally, the men (and they are almost always men) would return with new ideas and new perspectives. But they so often end up bitter radicals. They see how their nation is widely perceived as a backwards ocean of sand that is valued for its oil and little else. Furthermore, the Western world they encounter is full of temptations they have been groomed to hate, but the promise of economic prosperity they cannot hope to find at home.

    The home they return to is a stifling environment of institutionalized corruption (the name Saudi Arabia literally means "Arabia that belongs to the House of Saud"), intellectual stagnation where new ideas are deeply frowned upon, and constant reminders of the morally corrupt world they've left behind.

    What hope is there for a country like that?

    Even if they didn't come back a

    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:00PM (#34217340) Homepage

      Suggesting Islam was progressive and open to different opinions before the rise of Wahhabism is dishonest. Even during Islam's golden age, the main schools of Islamic jurisprudence ascribed fewer rights to non-Muslims. Pushing Christians and Jews down into second-class citizens happened in the generations following Muhammad; it wasn't something done much later by decadent rulers that fell from some higher ideal.

      One perhaps cannot blame Islam as a whole -- you still have way out there sects like the Ismailis who call themselves Muslims even as they reject most of the teachings generally considered to form Islam -- but one can certainly blame 90-something percent of it, and thus for the sake of economy of words, it's reasonable to speak of how Islam itself is the problem.

      • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @10:34PM (#34219388) Journal

        GP has a point though. Christianity was historically repressive, but it was changed from within. The serious problem with Salafi (Wahhabi) is that it is a movement that is, fundamentally, against any and all change - the ultimate dogmaticists willing to fix everything in stone and keep it that way for eternity. Where they are popular, there is absolutely no hope for Islam to evolve into something more tolerable.

        Christianity has similar movements in it, but, gladly, they were never been able to catch up with the humanist revolution, and the more liberal Christian denominations were pretty much forced to accept it and play along. But there's no similar force in Islamic world today, and Salafism is going strong, spreading like a cancer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Blaming Islam is wrong... Blaming those corrupt individuals who exploit their interpretation as a tool of oppression is what we should focus our efforts on.

      Islam was designed to be an instrument of oppression--like pretty much every religion. It's possible it can be "reformed" and its inherent purpose perverted like western religions, but Islam itself will fight this process, and fundamentalists will always have a coherent cause.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      The movement has taken Islam from being an unquestioned powerhouse of intellectual and cultural innovation to being perceived as a force of stagnation

      Your whole post founders on this misrepresentation. Islam was never a powerhouse of anything. Arabic people, under less repressive versions of Islam, managed to make some significant progress. but Islam itself, like almost all religions at almost all times, is a repressive force that imposes false beliefs in non-existent entities on children, who then gro

  • Why are mineral wealth and cultural wealth inversely proportional?
  • by Lilith's Heart-shape ( 1224784 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:46PM (#34218710) Homepage
    Tyranny of this sort should be rewarded in the manner exemplified by Hassan-i Sabbh []. But the people of Saudi Arabia won't rebel against this bullshit in any meaningful way, so it's not my concern.
  • Can we now please do this in America?

    Yes, I know it sets a bad precedent, but it's friggin' FACEBOOK!

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel