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Syria renews direct access to Facebook, YouTube

Positive news about access to Facebook and YouTube in Syria has been circulating in the strictly closed country

Rasha Saad , Wednesday 9 Feb 2011
A Syrian man connects on his Facebook account at an internet cafe, in Damascus, Syria (Photo: AP)

For the first time since 2007, Syrians can directly log onto Facebook and YouTube without going through proxy servers abroad, Internet users said on Wednesday.

The authorities issued no statements regarding the development, but one Internet monitor told AFP: "The lifting of the ban will be gradual due to technical reasons and the presence of several Internet service providers."

"The process of lifting the ban will take time and may extend for hours or days, according to the supplier," he added.

Al-Watan, a newspaper close to the government, quoted analysts as saying that lifting the firewall on Facebook and YouTube demonstrated "the government's confidence in its performance and that the state did not fear any threat coming from these two sites nor others."

But they noted that some websites remain blocked, including selected blogs, the Arabic version of Wikipedia, and a number of foreign and Arab media.

Last week a call on Facebook for a "day of rage" in Damascus -- mirroring mass demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia -- amassed more than 12,000 supporters online, but in the end no protesters were seen on the streets.

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