Syria lifts ban on Facebook

08 February 2011

Residents will now have direct access to social networking website

Syria will lift the ban on Facebook and Youtube on 8 February in a move to highlight the government’s confidence that it can contain anti-establishment sentiment as protests continue throughout the Middle East.

STE, the state-owned fixed-line internet service provider (ISP) has requested its licensed distributors to lift the ban on a number of social networking websites including US-based Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. Wikileaks and Amazon are still behind a firewall.

“The officials have been talking about lifting the ban for a while now after recommendations by civil groups. Today the decision has been implemented and it is now up to the ISPs to take care of the technical issues,” says Abdulsalam Haykal, a social and technology entrepreneur based in Damascus.

It is the first time in five years that Syrians will be able to access Facebook without the need for proxies.

A Facebook page was set up calling for a “day of rage” in Damascus on 5 February, but it failed to inspire protesters onto the streets.

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