In an effort to diminish the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)’s ability to organize and spread propaganda, the Iraqi government has blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google. While they have been blocked in Baghdad, the country’s capital, it’s unknown whether the ban is nationwide or simply in certain areas.
Recently, ISIS has overrun the cities of Mosul, Falluja, and Ramadi in an effort to make its way to Baghdad. While it isn’t surprising for ISIS to turn to social media, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki presumably blocked the services in order to disrupt the militants’ movement and planning.
VentureBeat received a politically-charged response from Facebook: “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.” Meanwhile, YouTube said that “some users are not able to access YouTube in Iraq.” The spokesperson said that it, as well as Twitter, is looking into the situation.
ISIS has been criticized by the United Nations and president Barack Obama, with Obama saying during a press conference that “Iraq is going to need more help from us and the international community.” According to the UN, ISIS has carried out summary executions of civilians when the militant group took over Mosul.