Last week’s business trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai reminded me of the differing attitudes to freedom of information. For much of the 90’s I lived in Singapore and was well used to working with and reading government owned newspapers which were open about the fact that their role of ‘nation-building’ at times took precedence over their commitment to more ‘pure’ news values. After a while you get used to this and learn to read between the lines and interpret and balance official views with those of the western media (and to be fair, for many of us who lived there, the western portrait of that island state was sometimes difficult to recognize too). However, I was surprised to see this screen appear in Dubai when I tried to log onto Twitter. Surprised because I couldn’t quite work out what the authorities were concerned about with Twitter unless it was the potential for enhancing the organisational abilities of some of the immigrant workers who have been protesting recently. Facebook worked perfectly well . . . as did the Twitter widget on Facebook and on this blog. I could, and did, send updates to Twitter by text, but, obviously, could not see what everyone was up to on the web, though I expect if I had turned on the mobile updates before I left, I could have kept up with people by text. This blog is sometimes mechanically blocked in China because (I think) I have used the word ‘democratisation’ frequently. Social media is difficult to keep up with if you are interested and engaged with it, but if your job is to ‘keep out harmful influences’ or stop certain people ‘congregating’ or ‘organizing’ (well, someone must have that job) it’s got to be a nightmare to decide what application is a liability and what is not. I’m not expecting you to be sorry for our stressed little censor by the way. Any other odd blocks or restrictions out there people know about?
[tags] Censorship [/tags]