In Brief

Snapchat blocks Al Jazeera at Saudi government's request

Social media app caught in diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Al Jazeera has accused Snapchat of censorship after the social media app blocked users in Saudi Arabia from viewing the broadcaster’s articles and videos.

Snap Inc, the company behind the popular app, says it did so at the request of the Saudi authorities, which claim Al Jazeera violated anti-cybercrime laws.

“We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate,” a spokesperson said.

The Qatar-based broadcaster condemned the decision in a strongly-worded statement yesterday, accusing Snapchat of sending an “alarming” message that regimes “can silence any voice or platform they don’t agree with” by exerting pressure on the owners of international social media platforms.

“This action is a direct attack against freedom of expression and will have detrimental consequences to the media industry,” said Dr Mostefa Souag, Al Jazeera’s acting director-general.

The conflict is the latest example of a technology company being pinned in the crosshairs of geopolitics, says The Wall Street Journal reports. In June, Saudi Arabia and several of its Sunni allies cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Al Jazeera “has been a major focus of the spat”, with the bloc previously demanding that Qatar shut down the broadcaster, which it views as a mouthpiece for Islamist groups, says the Financial Times.

“Social media users have been driving public opinion during the dispute, using platforms such as Twitter to publish criticism that has deepened the divide across the Gulf,” the paper adds.

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