News Outlets Censored in Egypt Using Facebook to Bypass Crackdown

Some Egyptian news stories are being posted on Facebook to circumvent web censorship by the Egyptian government, according to Reporters Without Borders.

“This act of censorship on a scale without precedent in Egypt is depriving the public of news and information that is independent and free of government control,” according to Alexandra El Khazen, who heads up the group’s Middle East desk.

Reporters Without Borders said 118 sites are now blocked in Egypt, more than any since the 2011 uprising. But that isn't stopping some outlets from getting their stories onto the web.

Some outlets, including online newspaper Mada Masr, post them on Facebook, which the group said is "very popular" in Egypt.

“Since the blocking, we have seen a big increase in the number of our Facebook followers,” said Lina Attalah, founder of Mada Masr, which was among the first news sites blocked. “But we have no illusions. We know that we are not disseminating as much content as before.”

Egypt is arguing that the blocking authorizations it has issued are related to combating terrorism, but some sites are fighting back in court.

Egypt is near the bottom of the Reporters Without Borders press freedom list, ranking 161 out of 180 countries

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.