After banning Al Jazeera on Saudi’s TV screens and blocking access to its site on the internet, Saudi Arabian authorities have asked Snapchat to remove Al Jazeera from its app.
Following the request from the authorities, Snapchat decided to block Al Jazeera citing local laws. The move is considered as a direct attack against the freedom of expression by Al Jazeera network.
Al Jazeera Media Network’s Dr Mostefa Souag, Acting Director General, said: “We find Snapchat’s action to be alarming and worrying. This sends a message that regimes and countries can silence any voice or platform they don’t agree with by exerting pressure on the owners of social media platforms and content distribution companies. This step is a clear attack on the rights of journalists and media professionals to report and cover stories freely from around the world.”
Mostefa Souag further stated “We at Al Jazeera, object to any form of censorship and restrictions to freedom of the media and the right to access information.
Saudi Arabia’s government told the social media company that the Al Jazeera Discover Publisher Channel violated local laws. “We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate,” a Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.
Morad Rayyan, head of Incubation and Innovation Research at Al Jazeera, said the move was “unprecedented”. “Snapchat is a US-based company, publicly traded, and it stands for freedom of expression.”
“We are working on contingency plans to ensure our content is available on other platforms,” Rayyan said.
“We are urging them (Snapchat) to review the decision that was made. They were that ones who invited us to be one of their news partners for the region.”
“The channel will still be available outside of Saudi Arabia in 14 other Middle Eastern countries, alongside other broadcasters.
“The conflict is the latest example of a technology company being pinned in the crosshairs of geopolitics as it navigates censorship of content on its platforms,” the Wall Street Journal reported.