Getting a face to the main social book: who’s next?
The way our government deals with independent media is more than a casual story in Uzbekistan. A week ago neweurasia reported on a ban of Facebook, the most popular social network in the world. Uzbek users had a chance to discuss this issue brought by Ferghana.Ru information agency which claimed that the ban might have been a response of the Uzbek government to the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Press Freedom Index 2010 report.
neweurasia‘s staff and friends in Uzbekistan had helped us to get actual proofs of the ban. We got several comments from our readers and many other places of discussions.
Now, having them and clarifying the situation in Uzbekistan with our contacts in the country we get to think about the outcomes and how fast the government reacted, including its mouthpieces.
Gazeta.uz reported on this issue stating that,
“In the evening of October 21 few foreign internet editions reported on the ban of Facebook in Uzbekistan. [When we checked it out] we realized that it wasn’t what really happened.
Gazeta.uz respondents reported that the internet-resource is easily accessible in Uzbekistan.”
My position on it was and still is that the government really initiated the ban itself and ordered internet-providers to close the access.
Well, this is true that these days Facebook is not banned anymore but we decided to conduct our own investigation and came to a really surprising conclusions:
1. Facebook was ban for a day but not by all internet providers of the country;
My personal source at the TshTT, the main internet provider and owner of the biggest state-owned telecom company, confirmed that there was an order to shut it for a few days only.
That’s probably why some people could open the page and someones couldn’t. (FYI: seven out of nine of my friends couldn’t do it — see neweurasia‘s Faceless government and bookless users).
2. Mobile phone users could access the social network without any problems;
There was no order to ban Facebook with the mobile phone operators; they simply don’t belong to the government.
“It’s more difficult to ban a particular website for cellular companies and then open access in a while,” said Shukhrat, an assistant at the public relations department of MTS-Uzbekistan, the biggest cellular company of Uzbekistan owned by the Russian MobileTeleSystems (MTS) company.
“Moreover, there are particular policies used to ban a web site by cellular companies: the web site should contain any kind of an anti-governmental information to get banned in order to avoid accusations of the government in supporting ideological enemies of the state.”
3. Some of the Uzbekistani Facebook users took the initiative and sent the social network authorities their concerns asking them to clarify the situation with local internet providers.
Though there was Facebook’s no official reaction seems like users’ concerns somehow played a role in re-opening the access to their lovely pages.
neweurasia‘s Annasoltan reported earlier this year Turkmenistan’s Berdimuhammedov banned Facebook, Twitter and Youtube altogether instead of being more open to his fellow countrymen through the Web 2.0-related media technologies, like Russia’s Medvedev, Venezuela’s Chavez and America’s Obama did long time ago.
No surprise that Karimov wanted to get closer to the Turkmen leader since Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan shared the 163th position in RSF’s Press Freedom Index 2010. That would definitely bring few more ‘leadership’ points to the Uzbek President in the race-for-the-worst-dictatorship in the world.
Or would you consider Facebook adds to access banned independent web sites like Ferghana.ru, Uzmetronom.com, Uznews.net and others, including neweurasia, a normal phenomena in a closed country like Uzbekistan? Just imagine that you could get to them with just one click avoiding googleing proxy sites process to get information that is different from the one offered by our official propaganda.
Whatever happens in future with the media situation in Uzbekistan we should remember that actions to scare independent social networks working in the country will remain as a main tool to prevent people’s right for free flow of information. And I just wonder who is going to be next in the ban-queue in our government’s to-do list.
By the way, I haven’t found adds inviting to access the above mentioned banned websites on Facebook after it’d faced a not really nice treatment last week. Have you?