Syria’s web opening, visualized
The Syrian government’s internet mavens decided to smile upon Sham today. For the first time in
five over three years, Syrians can now access Facebook, Youtube and Blogspot without a proxy, opening up three sites of the hundreds currently blocked by the country’s various censorship tools. I initially had my doubts about how much of an impact this would have, since web access here is expensive and inconvenient, and since the opening happened to occur on the same day as a country-wide boycott of the two monopolizing crooks that provide 3G access. But Google traffic reports are showing pretty significant spikes in traffic.
Here’s what usage looks like for Blogspot this month:
And, even more dramatically, for Youtube this week:
My theory about the Blogspot traffic is that is has nothing to do with the unblocking and everything to do with people jumping the wall to access Egypt news. Blogspot is still blocked for me. Since Youtube and Facebook have both opened up at this point, I’m skeptical about whether that one is actually going to come through.
Also, the Times story on the opening says Facebook saw no change in traffic patterns whatsoever coming out of Syria, which strikes me as pretty strange, considering the clear trend on the Youtube numbers. But I suppose it’s a different game for a service utilized by only about 200,000 Syrians, out of a total population of about 21 million people. That teeny tiny percentage is the main reason we should be skeptical of any movement (ahem) we see that utilizes Facebook as its primary mechanism for organizing Syrians.
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