Qatar crisis: Saudi forces Snapchat to block Al Jazeera access
Snapchat has blocked access to broadcaster Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia. The social media platform said Saudi authorities asked it to cut Qatari-backed Al Jazeera's Discover Publisher Channel as it violated local laws. Al Jazeera is at the center of the ongoing dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Saudi, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE cut off ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
Human rights groups and media freedom activists consider Saudi Arabia as one of the world's most controlled media environments. However, Saudi authorities particularly dislike Al Jazeera which they consider as an influential Qatari tool to question Riyadh's regional hegemony. Shutting down Al Jazeera was one of the 13 demands Saudi Arabia placed on Qatar to remove sanctions. The conditions were eventually withdrawn.
A high rate of smartphone ownership has turned Saudi Arabia into one of the world's largest social media markets in the Middle East. This has placed the US-based Snapchat in a difficult situation as it must adhere to restrictive Saudi laws to continue its market presence. "We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate," Snapchat said.