It is being reported that social media sites Facebook and YouTube are now accessible without proxy servers or VPNs in Syria which means that the ban for Facebook and YouTube which was imposed in 2007 has now been lifted.
Even during the ban, both websites Facebook and YouTube were routinely accessed by Syrians through international proxy servers.
The move follows a recent interview in which President Bashar Al-Assad indicated he would push for political reforms including municipal elections and a new media law.
The other websites, such as Amazon and Wikipedia, for the time being, are still being blocked.
Head of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Mazen Darwish, said he has “semiofficial confirmation” the ban is being lifted.
Syria has escaped the kind of popular upheaval roiling other Arab countries. An online campaign calling for a “Day of Rage” against Assad’s authoritarian regime last weekend fell flat when no protesters showed up in Damascus.
It is not a major compromise by President Bashar Assad, as many Syrians accessed the sites anyway using proxy servers.
The United States welcomed the move by Syria’s government. Alec Ross, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation, said through Twitter:
“Welcome positive move on Facebook & YouTube in Syria but concerned that freedom puts users at risk absent freedom of expression & association.”