I went offline for this weekend (complete radio silence) for the first time in years. Of course, during that time,
Saudi Arabia had to go and block Facebook the media went crazy reporting that Saudi Arabia blocked Facebook, but Saudi netizens are saying there was no actual block. And then unblock Facebook. It’s almost as if it didn’t even happen!
Blocking Facebook would put Saudi Arabia in a class with Syria, Iran, and China. Unblocking it puts it on par with Pakistan and Bangladesh, two countries which have pulled the same shenanigans.
It’s not surprising that Saudi would block Facebook; the country’s filtering is already pervasive. It’s somewhat more interesting that the ban didn’t last–what incentive do authorities possibly have to keep the site online? One guess is that keeping Facebook online better allows the state to monitor its citizens.
In any case, blocking Facebook would likely have few implications in Saudi, where VPNs seem to reign supreme, whereas keeping it available might just pacify young citizens enough to keep them quiet.