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The New Arab

Snapchat blocks Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has made several moves against social media freedoms this year [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 September, 2017

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Snapchat has found it thrust into the Riyadh-Doha fracas, as the social media giant blocks the Qatari media outlet Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia.

Popular social media platform Snapchat has chosen to block Al Jazeera content in Saudi Arabia, in line with kingdom's ongoing blockade of Qatar.

The US-based social media giant said it made the controversial move after Saudi authorities requested it remove the Doha-based media outlet's Discover Publisher Channel.

Saudi Arabia, which has one of the largest social media markets in the Middle East, claims that the channel violated local laws.

Qatar is currently locked in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, who allege that Doha is supporting terrorism in the Middle East - a claim the emirate strongly denies.

The anti-Qatar bloc severed diplomatic ties with Doha in June and have imposed an economic blockade on the Gulf state.

The quartet also issued a list of demands for ending the crisis, which included a requirement that Qatari-based or sympathetic media outlets - including Al Jazeera - be shuttered.

Qatar has vehemently rejected accusations against it and described the quartet's list of demands as an infringement of the state's sovereignty, which have since been altered.

Saudi Arabia's latest move against Al Jazeera on social media follows the arrest of a number of high-profile public figures in the kingdom over social media posts perceived as sympathetic to Qatar.

Among those arrested earlier this month was Salman al-Awdah, a Muslim cleric with 14 million Twitter followers, over a tweet in which he appeared to welcome reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Earlier this year, a Saudi model was also arrested after posting a Snapchat story in which she was reportedly dressed "inappropriately" in public.

Snapchat has issued a statement on the matter, saying that the Al Jazeera content was blocked as part of an "effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate".

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