Following a recent feud and a request from the Saudi Arabia authority, social media platform Snapchat has blocked access to Al Jazeera content in Saudi Arabia.
According to the Saudi government, Al Jazeera’s Snapchat channel was breaking local laws related to published material and cyber crime.
Although, the TV network, Al Jazeera, still has its content on other channels available in Saudi Arabia, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
They however denounced the move by Snapchat, and in the words of the acting Director-General Mostefa Souag, “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.”
Morad Rayyan, head of Incubation and Innovation Research at Al Jazeera, said the move by Snapchat 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 the ones who invited us to be one of their news partners for the region.”
Commenting on their action, Snapchat said it was asked by to remove the Qatari-backed broadcaster’s Discover Publisher Channel because it violated local laws. “We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate.”
They noted that Al Jazeera’s channel is still available to Snapchat users in 14 other countries in the Middle East, among them the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.