YouTube is banned in Saudi Arabia

These well-known websites are blocked in other countries

By Madlen Schäfer | January 14, 2019, 4:09 p.m.

Many websites are an integral part of our everyday life. In some parts of the world, however, known pages cannot be accessed at all.

Just watch a series on Netflix, write to a friend on Facebook or read an entry on Wikipedia - it's completely normal for us. However, these pages cannot be accessed everywhere in the world. In some countries, large websites are blocked and not easily accessible from there.


In more than 190 countries around the world, people stream series and films on the global market leader Netflix. Believe it or not, there are actually several regions of the world where Netflix is ​​not available. This means that Netflix is ​​also missing out on quite a few potential customers, because a country in which the streaming portal is not available is China with its more than 1.3 billion people. According to its own statement, the company is currently still examining whether to make its offer available there as well. It remains to be seen how successful Netflix will be, as the Chinese government generally has complex requirements for foreign media companies. And: "Even in Crimea, North Korea and Syria, Netflix is ​​not available due to US government requirements that apply to American companies," says Netflix.


Even at school we learn that we must not believe everything that is written in the free encyclopedia, because everyone is entitled to make additions to the articles. Incorrect content can be published relatively easily in this way, although in many cases it is quickly removed. Despite this shortcoming, Wikipedia is probably one of the most important sources of information for mankind. Not being able to visit this page is therefore a major break in freedom.

However, the site is censored in many countries. According to information from Wikipedia, this is the case in China, France, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Great Britain. This is often caused by certain articles on the platform. For example, the French government, or rather the Directorate-General for Internal Security, criticized a certain article, while Iran blocked more than 900 posts. In Turkey, for example, Wikipedia was censored in April 2017 because, according to the Turkish government, some writers of articles “support terror”. Turkish officials had previously come into contact with Wikipedia several times. Wikipedia "has started to appear as part of those groups who are conducting a smear campaign against Turkey at the international level instead of cooperating in the fight against terrorism," complains the Turkish government. It is assumed, however, that the site is being blocked in Turkey primarily to hide criticism of President Erdogan's Wikipedia page against his work.


Everyone has probably already experienced this: when you view a video on YouTube, you see that the selected video is not available in the country. That alone is annoying. But in some countries around the world, the video platform is completely taboo.

Last year, YouTube was blocked in Gabon, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, the United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Libya, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Thailand. The platform is currently blocked in countries like China, Iran and North Korea.


The social network has around two billion users. It's hard to believe that in the country with the most people in the world, Facebook is blocked. Facebook is also not available in Syria. In 2008 and in the Arab Spring of 2011 there were allegedly attempts to block Facebook in Tunisia. Since 2010, some pages on Facebook have been blocked in Afghanistan. In Kazakhstan, there were reports of temporary bans, while Facebook was temporarily banned in Papua New Guinea and Pakistan.


The little blue bird is not allowed to chirp in all countries. What the microblogging service can achieve was particularly evident during the Arab Spring, when information from activists was distributed specifically via Twitter. That's probably why some governments are a thorn in the side of Twitter. In China, Twitter has been blocked for so long that some young people don't even know what tweet is, according to the New York Times. Twitter has been blocked in Iran since 2009. A ban has been imposed on Twitter in North Korea and Turkey.


We often ask the search engine Google before we even turn our brain on. It's hard to believe that some people can't just check questions via Google. As with other websites, it also affects the people of China. The largest search engine in the world, the email provider and Google's cloud are not available in the country. Google and the Chinese government have never agreed on a major firewall since 2002.

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Last year, Google is said to have initially responded to the wishes of the Chinese government and tried to bow to the conditions in which the company wanted to open up this market for itself. The way in this direction, however, has been heavily criticized externally and internally. Google is said to have worked on a special search engine called "Dragonfly" which does not display any search results that might not suit the Chinese government. Even its own employees opposed the development of this search engine and the human rights organization Amnesty International condemned the project. With so much pressure the company gave in, "Dragonfly" never started.


The Tumblr blogging portal is also banned in China and cannot be accessed by the people there. But Tumblr is not available in Kazakhstan either. In addition, the platform on which texts, photos, quotes, etc. were blocked in Indonesia last year because it was feared that there would be too many adult photos there. In addition, the country also blocked around 70,000 pages.

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