Social Media Governance Issues in the Middle East during 2014

2014 saw several high profile cases of tensions between Government authorities in the Middle East and some social media users.

Here are a few examples:

  • The country is also considering changes to its Anti-Cybercrime Law, to target social networking sites which promote content at odds with Islamic values, the Saudi Gazette It noted that: “Researcher and consultant of new media uses and Shoura Council member Dr. Fayez al-Shehri told Al-Hayat Arabic daily that there are around 25,000 accounts on Twitter targeting Saudis. There are around 4,500 accounts that promote atheism. Around 15,000-25,000 of such accounts are in Arabic language.” Al-Shehri described this as a “cultural war”.
  • “Egypt Begins Surveillance Of Facebook, Twitter, And Skype On Unprecedented Scale,” Buzzfeed reported in September.
  • An appeal by the blogger Raif Badawi saw his sentence increased by the Saudi courts in May from 600 lashings and seven years in prison, to 1,000 lashings and 10 years imprisonment. Deutsche Welle recounted that he was also fined 1 million riyals, akin to c.200,000 euros, for “violating Islamic values and propagating liberal thought.” In the same article  the sentence was described as “extremely harsh,” by Ali H. Alyami, head of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. The Guardian previously reported that the start of this sentence had been carried out in January. Since then further public punishment has been postponed, and CBC says that his “future remains uncertain”. Amnesty has more about his case.

This is the final extract from my third annual round-up of Social Media in the Middle East.  You can download a copy of the document here and it also available on ScribdSlideShare and

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