Iraq blocks access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in an attempt to halt militants

The Iraqi government has been in overdrive since Tuesday, when Islamic militants from ISIS seized the city of Mosul and began a slow march towards Iraq's capital of Baghdad. Traditional methods of halting the terrorist group have failed, as thousands of Iraqi soldiers have deserted when faced with the possibility of fighting ISIS militants -- so Iraq is exploring a new method: Blocking the means for ISIS members to communicate.

Today, the internet exploded with reports that Iraq had blocked access to all major social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, with users posting screenshots of block screens. Although some have been able to bypass the block with proxies or VPNs, social media is down for the majority of Iraq's 32.58 million citizens, as well as foreign and domestic militants.

 

the block is likely an attempt to hinder ISIS, who has seized a number of major Iraqi cities in the past week, including Mosul and Tikrit, and who earlier in the year established partial control in Fallujah and Ramadi. With no immediate assistance on the horizon from other nations, Iraq is exploring drastic possibilities to maintain its governing force. ISIS, like many other Jihadist militants, embrace social media websites; uploading videos of their conquests to YouTube, posting status updates and messages of support on Facebook and Twitter, and even coordinating actions across various social media sites. ISIS also maintains an English-language magazine, which they distribute via their al-Ḥayāt Media Center Twitter account. 

Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all issued statements to Venturebeat on the matter, expressing their concern and noting that they will look into the situation.

We are disturbed by reports of access issues in Iraq and are investigating. Limiting access to Internet services — essential for communication and commerce for millions of people — is a matter of concern for the global community. 

- Facebook response

We’re seeing reports that some users are not able to access YouTube in Iraq. There is no technical issue on our side and we’re looking into the situation.

- Google response

Time will tell whether the social media block is effective; in the short term, though, ISIS doesn't seem to be hindered. The United States recently evacuated "a few hundred" Americans from a major air force base in Iraq over concerns about the militants, and cities are still making major preparations for an impending ISIS attack.

Source: New York TimesImage via @Superammar 

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theyarecomingforyou said,

That doesn't address the fact that the US is responsible for most of the instability in the region. You can deflect all you want but you haven't done anything to refute the points I raised.

One, this is the worst place to try to refute points. Two, I dont care enough about changing your mind to do so, and three, if there is a bias its extremely hard to change that bias online.

It would look like a novel if we started into "refuting" each other. And its clear you think that the US is to blame for everything in the middle east and dont think the US has done anything right or well or cared about anyone in this process.

I just think its an easy, small pictured, incomplete argument to say the US did everything and is at fault for everything. It doesnt solve anything, nor is it true. And it leaves out a historical pattern of instability in the region.

But again, none of this matters. This wont stop the violence or instability in the middle east. So, farewell and I am sure I will see you all on another thread =).

This guy obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. He's most likely never been to Iraq. When I was there, everyone I talked to was glad we were there. The Iraqi's that I worked with were one of the friendliest people I've ever met. Whatever they had; cigarette, tea, food, etc they offered to us. They wanted to learn and be brave.

A war isn't going on in Iraq, it's a mass murder of those who were on our side wanting freedom to do whatever they wanted without having to worry about having their hands tied behind their backs, forced to lay down and get a fully loaded magazine clip of 7.62 rounds into their defenseless bodies.

Dinggus said,
This guy obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. He's most likely never been to Iraq. When I was there, everyone I talked to was glad we were there. The Iraqi's that I worked with were one of the friendliest people I've ever met. Whatever they had; cigarette, tea, food, etc they offered to us. They wanted to learn and be brave.

A war isn't going on in Iraq, it's a mass murder of those who were on our side wanting freedom to do whatever they wanted without having to worry about having their hands tied behind their backs, forced to lay down and get a fully loaded magazine clip of 7.62 rounds into their defenseless bodies.

That is what I have heard from every soldier I have talked to about Iraq. The things I have heard from first hand accounts, read, saw, have mainly pointed to what you have said.

The work you guys did over there was fantastic. I pray they can hold onto the freedom they had a taste of and wanted.

Dinggus said,
This guy obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. He's most likely never been to Iraq. When I was there, everyone I talked to was glad we were there. The Iraqi's that I worked with were one of the friendliest people I've ever met. Whatever they had; cigarette, tea, food, etc they offered to us. They wanted to learn and be brave.
Yeah, no US soldiers ever died there and the country is a now a paradise. :rolleyes:

Nobody is disputing that there are elements within Iraq who welcome foreign intervention but that has no bearing on the discussion here. The issue is whether Iraq is better or worse as a result of the US-led invasion and all the evidence shows that it is worse. Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Nobody is disputing that there are elements within Iraq who welcome foreign intervention but that has no bearing on the discussion here. The issue is whether Iraq is better or worse as a result of the US-led invasion and all the evidence shows that it is worse. Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.

I'm going to disagree with your statement.

who is ISIS? i don't find much info from them in the interwebs...

what i don't understand is how this group as been gaining more members and "conquering" cities.

Praetor said,
who is ISIS? i don't find much info from them in the interwebs...

what i don't understand is how this group as been gaining more members and "conquering" cities.


Quite simple actually: in Iraq you have Shia, Sunni and Curds, three different ethnic groups; the actual government is Shia dominated therefore the Sunni are backing ISIS, at least do now, to counteract the Shia; the Curds on the other hands see this turmoil as an opportunity to create an independent state in the north. Kind the enemy of my enemy is my friend to oversimplify. Of course things are much more complicated because, for example, the creation of an independent Curd state would be the prologue of a further wave on instability in the region caused by the other Curds living in Iran and Turkey.

Praetor said,
thanks for the info; too bad that they don't realize they all are Iraqis and should be more tolerant to each other.

The problem is the Iraq... does not exists: it was one of the many entities artificially created by the winners of I World War and the consequences of that ill planning keep affecting us, former Jugoslavia is a perfect example of it, nowadays. Of course in the Middle East the religious factor greatly worsen the tensions.

Very inaccurate. Shi'a Islam and Sunni Islam are different branches of Islam, not ethnic groups. The Kurds are an ethnic group from Iran, with a significant presence in Iraqi Kurdistan. While the Kurds play in tangentially, they're on the whole unrelated to ISIS, which itself is Sunni-based (not just supported by Sunnis) and seeks to overthrow Baghdad partially because the Maliki regime is Shiite, and partially because they seek to establish an independent Islamic state in northern Syria and northern Iraq.

Praetor said,
who is ISIS? i don't find much info from them in the interwebs...

what i don't understand is how this group as been gaining more members and "conquering" cities.

Try ISIL, thats their actual name.

Jett Goldsmith said,
Very inaccurate. Shi'a Islam and Sunni Islam are different branches of Islam, not ethnic groups. The Kurds are an ethnic group from Iran, with a significant presence in Iraqi Kurdistan. While the Kurds play in tangentially, they're on the whole unrelated to ISIS, which itself is Sunni-based (not just supported by Sunnis) and seeks to overthrow Baghdad partially because the Maliki regime is Shiite, and partially because they seek to establish an independent Islamic state in northern Syria and northern Iraq.

Not really: It is indeed true that globally the difference between Sunni and Shia is in the religious beliefs where the latter do not recognize the the first three Caliphs but only the fourth one, Ali who married Fatima the only surviving daughter of the Prophet, etc. etc. in the specific of Iraq such religious differences also differentiate different Tribes. Furthermore, and contrary to the western approach to the matter, the belonging to a certain tribe is considered belonging to a different ethnic group; " The seven pillars of wisdom" is, among many others of course, a very interesting reading to understand from a westerner prospective the role that belonging to a certain tribe rather than another play in the relations among different ones in the region.

No Big Deal. Iraq is run by US since 2006...Iraq can ban whole internet, it still shouldn't and wouldn't matter...

The main problem with the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is that there was no way to win the militarily, short of killing many,many more than we did, and we should have learned that lesson about the Afghanistan War from the Soviet occupation there. We could permanently occupy them and keep a peace of sorts, but that's not a military victory and I don't think there's any stomach for such action except from the more extreme neo-cons. And just wiping many tens of millions more lives than we did is even less of a practical reality.

We are going to have to find a another way to win or battles other than through the use of raw force. Not that raw force can't be useful, it has proven to be effective in many situations, but the Middle East isn't a an area where raw force works well without permanent occupation at least by an overwhelmingly superior force.

heatlesssun said,
The main problem with the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is that there was no way to win the militarily

hey, no problem, let all the Islamists who want out, free entry to the United States, then whatever extremists are left can kill each other off, and Obama will have fulfilled his dream for the United States of Islam.

NastySasquatch said,
It's terribly funny

And poof the rest of post disappears...

Its terribly funny reading this news cycle n reverse. Usually we've been rooting for the insurgents and decrying the oppressive regime.

What is slightly amusing is you have the Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Jordanian, Israeli, and US government all agreeing (not necessarily for all the same reasons), for once on who are the bad guys, that doesn't happen that often.

I think a wise move in the very short term and glad it wasn't the whole net, I do hope it's only temporary while the Iraqi security forces regroup over the next couple days. BTW cell service was also killed off temporarily in Baghdad earlier today for the same reasons, it was back on tonight (at least for awhile) though, heard from a contact who lives about 3 blocks from our embassy, he said earlier today this action (blockage of some websites) was announced ahead of time, or so was the word on the street earlier this afternoon when he was out talking to people, he didn't hear\read any announcement himself.

Best wishes for those in Iraq.

When a country is in a military emergency (thanks to the US) then trust me twitter and facebook are their last needs.

Riva said,
When a country is in a military emergency (thanks to the US) then trust me twitter and facebook are their last needs.

Right. Never try to fight the phrase "the first casualty in war is the truth". The truth would also not be very convenient for the USA.

History is written by the winners. Did you not pay attention at school?
If you do not trust your government and news sources in your own country then you have a bigger problem than Iraq.

Another phrase you just accept and dont fight. Interesting.
I am starting to understand why history repeats itself all the time... because of people like you.

We dont have bigger issues. We have pretty much the same. Ours are just much better hidden, so that people like you ignore them.

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