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Syria: Facebook and YouTube Unblocked, Among Others

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

Internet in Syria has been heavily censored for years. Seemingly harmless sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia Arabic have only been accessible through proxies and various circumvention software. Syrian users even set up Facebook groups and mailing lists to share info on the latest working proxies, and they have generally succeeded in staying one step ahead of government censors.

Today, Forward Magazine broke exciting news that thousands of Syrian were waiting to hear; “Syria lifts Facebook ban.” Syrian tweeps were ecstatic with the news and raced to announce–as well as verify–their new-found freedom. Their pleas “Mr. President, tear down this wall” have finally been heard; the wealth of information, networking opportunities, and funny cat videos provided by the previously blocked sites is now one step easier to reach.

Image by Flickr user Azraiman

Image by Flickr user Azraiman

Abdulsalam Haykal, a Syrian entrepreneur and influential media figure, announced some insider info about a directive to lift the ban:

To be made public soon. #Facebook will be officially unblocked in #Syria as of today.

Basel Hamadeh confirms:

#Facebook#youtube and #Blogspot has confirmed to be open in #Syria ISP's is processing the request right now ! :)

Adnan Homsi adds another discovery to the unblocked list:

و الويكيبيدا العربية كمان , شكلنا اخدنا وش و كترنا :P
Arabic Wikipedia as well, we're almost getting a little bit too comfortable there :P

Some users however were unable to see the changes, but tweeps were quick to ease their frustration. Wael Orabi tweeted:

@Seleucid it's a matter of time, ISP needs to update their systems. by tomorrow it's gonna be applied to everyone

Similarly, Bashar Kokash explains the process:

@MazenMS maybe not all ISPs unblocked it yet, I'm using STE connection now and it's really unblocked

Seleucid is overjoyed with the news, and he thinks lifting the ban is a largely influenced by the pro-democracy protests in Egypt:

I can't believe I'm witnessing something this beautiful :'). Thank you #Jan25, thank you. #Syria

He adds:

لك الله حيو شعب مصر! فكوا حجب سوريا!!!!

May God bless the people of Egypt! They unblocked Syria!!!

Eventually he continues to welcome an open Youtube, and asks the US government to match the move by removing the sanctions that block Syrians from accessing any and all software developed by US companies no matter how harmless it is, and he concludes by analyzing the significance of the latest developments in the country:

Open youtube changes your world… I'm not joking.

Syria has freed us of all restrictions. Now it's time for the US to follow suit.

What we're witnessing in Syria right now is the death of the old guard. Might have bigger implications than a simple unblock.

Photo by Flickr user Azrainman made available by Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

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