The censoring of the internet is a common trend in many international markets. For some, it is to disrupt the free exchange of ideas that could prove a threat to the ideology or control a government has over its people, for others it is to limit exposure to material that could be offensive religiously or otherwise.
Currently in Kuwait, the second of those scenarios is being experienced. Kuwait's Information Minister announced recently that the government plans to establish new legislation to regulate social networking sites like microblogging site Twitter. This measure is intended to safeguard the cohesiveness of the population and society, detailed the Informational Minisiter Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, as quoted from EFF.org. The issue at hand is addressing the comments made on the social platforms intended to incite tension between the Sunnis and Shi'ites in the region. This is a troubling development, as alongside the benefits that come with the instantaneous communication of Twitter and other platforms also come the unwanted possibilities when people use it for ill.
The media and internet landscape has been largely free in Kuwait and one of the most progressive in the Middle East region. Commentators characterize the media in Kuwait as outspoken but journalists are expected to self-censor against issues related to the national royal family. The Ministry of Communication does regulate the ISPs in the country though at the moment to block websites that go against religious traditions and security as well as those that seemingly support terrorism. The government has begun to regulate Twitter and is reportedly looking to curtain anonymous accounts on Twitter.
The further censorship experienced in Kuwait presents an interesting challenge because it is apparently being pursued in order to avoid tensions being initiated or escalated between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis. Such restrictions are understandable to the degree that they are truly about keeping the peace between the different groups of people in the country and using the social platform.
It is hard to determine how much social media use will be impacted in the country going forward for standard and business users. As such, the internet marketing industry and the social media marketing that is engaged in by SEO companies will largely not be impacted if regulation comes against offending users, but may indeed be affected if restrictions come for un-verified accounts. Developments in the country will be tracked in the future as those operating in the market will want to know how they can move forward on Twitter and other social platforms.
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