The Iraqi government has blocked access to top social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, reportedly to hinder the activities of militants formerly associated with Al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, thousands are signing up to fight the jihadist insurgency in Iraq.
Numerous media reports citing journalists and open-internet advocates said that internet users in Iraq are getting block screens when trying to access top social media sites and Google.
The Kuwait News Agency cited a source in the Iraqi Ministry of Communications who said the agency was told to block access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as a number of pornographic websites.
The source did not specify why the sites were blocked, but it is believed to be a move to thwart militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) from posting videos and pictures of exploits in the nation’s northern and western regions. The group has captured major ground in those areas, including Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq.
Hayder Hamzoz, founder of the Iraqi Network for Social Media, spread word of the block, and Ammar Al Shahbander, the Iraq director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, offered a screenshot oferror messages received by users in Iraq.