Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are widely used social media platforms worldwide, where people can connect with their friends, family, other like-minded people, existing and potential business associates, and customers.
In the year 2020, around 48% of the world’s population used one or the other social media platforms. This figure is going to increase to 56.7% by 2025. In 2020, global social media users were 3.6 billion users. (Global Social Network Penetration 2017-2025 published by Statista Research Department)
The use of social media platforms has surpassed the zone of establishing a connection; these platforms are now actively used by large, medium and small businesses to promote their brand. One of the offshoots of social media growth is SimplyGram services, which helps in gaining more followers, thus helping your brand grow.
Freedom of speech is required for any democratic country, and social media play a vital role in this regard. However, some countries have outlawed social media.
For example, Turkey has banned social media. Turkey is a member of NATO, and they have applied to the European Union. So as a democratic country, it is not expected to ban social media. However, Turkey did not ban social media as an enforced law, and they have banned social media based on their current situation. A Marxist terrorist organization has occupied a state, and they started distributing the images of their hostages online. The government of Turkey banned social media from controlling this situation because they stated that circulating such images will support terrorism. This is just one of the examples. Other nations like Russia banned Snapchat in 2018 and many others.
Countries that have outlawed social media:
Most of the time, the government bans social media forums because of political reasons. There have been several cases where social media platforms spread hate messages and fake news. This can sometimes result in a civil war situation and increase a sense of distrust in the nation.
Most governments want to suppress the voice of their dissenters. It can be political parties or a detector. A country’s government always tries to suppress their voice by using its soft weapons. Outlawing social media is one of the major steps that a government can take to suppress the voice of its opponent or opposition parties. For example, there are many Islamic countries where anti-religion campaigns are strictly prohibited. A series of protests organized through social media in some of the Islamic states, including Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain, and the government has taken some steps to ban the Internet within their borders because they stated that such radical movements of youth could spread a wrong message across the world. Apart from that, social media has been outlawed by some countries, and here, you can find some examples:
- China: The Great Firewall of China was created to outlaw some websites, and major social media and online live streaming platforms are banned in China. They implemented this law in 2009, and they have also banned VPNs. Like the Arab Spring, China also suffered from riots. The world also witnessed the Xinjiang riots done by the Uyghurs. As a result, China has banned social media and live streaming platforms within its borders. China can keep control of all political and national events, and news granted by the Chinese Government is relayed to the global public. They have their own social media site called Weibo, and it is fully controlled and monitored by the government.
- Vietnam: In 2009, Facebook was blocked for a week by the Vietnam Government, and they never stated that it was a ban on Facebook, but they stated that it was a step taken by their government to control the people who are criticizing the government through social media. Although this ban continued for a week, and later it was revoked. Again in 2016, it banned LinkedIn.
- Iran: The president of Iran has two Twitter accounts, and he maintains one account in English and another in Farsi. He mostly tweets about foreign and domestic affairs. The Iranian Grand Ayatollah is also active on Twitter, and he has more than 183000 followers on his Twitter account. Social media platforms are not permanently banned in Iran, but they have blocked access to Instagram and Telegram in 2019 and 2018 to control the political upheaval. Even, Iranian Government banned Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube during their election in 2009.
- Syria: The country has become a battlefield. Considering the condition in Syria and war-like conditions, the use of the internet is impacted in the nation. The country actively bans websites for political regions. The websites that face the brunt include the ones that cover sensitive topics, foreign affairs, human rights, etc. Social media and messaging sites are stringently monitored in Syria.
- Bangladesh: The death sentences of two war criminals were upheld by the Bangladesh Supreme Court in 2015, and they have decided to block Internet access for a short period. As a result, major services, including social media like Facebook, remained shut in Bangladesh for a long period. Popular messaging apps like WhatsApp also faced such issues during this period. The government stated that it was done due to the safety issue of their citizens.
- North Korea: Here, censorship is implemented for everything, and western social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are completely banned in North Korea. Even people cannot access the Internet, and Internet access is limited and restricted for Government officials, scientists, and elite students. North Korean staff members also monitor their Internet access. Here, you can find censorship in radio, television, and government-sanctioned internet. All South Korean websites, including Western ones, are banned in North Korea. However, visitors and foreigners can access the Internet and social media in North Korea with their 3G mobile network. Even VPNs are outlawed in this country, and North Korea is a true example of the countries that have outlawed social media.
- Uganda: Uganda is an exception in censorship of social media because it is the first country trying to impose a tax on social media apps. Internet use is strictly prohibited in Uganda, and only students and researchers can access the Internet for their research and educational purposes. The government of Uganda thinks that using the Internet for chatting and recreation is a luxury.
The Internet is redefining the way of life and is playing a key role globally whether it is business communication, personal interaction, a new avenue for making money, sharing knowledge or entertainment. However, due to the risks and threats it poses, some countries have outlawed it completely or partially. These countries have banned social media to silence people who have anti-national, anti-religion and radical ideologies. Now, whether it is a rightful course of action or not is a subject of debate.