Banned: 10 popular social networks and websites that are (or were) blocked in other countries

In today’s digital age, the unlimited access to the internet is often taken for granted. After all, it is just a click away, right!


Sadly, for many internet users, access to the World Wide Web is limited. This is because many of the popular websites and apps we are so accustomed to are blocked in their respective countries.

Here, we present you the list of ten social media platforms, websites and apps that are not available legitimately in other countries.

1. Wikipedia – Turkey

Turkey banned Wikipedia in 2017 after the publishers of the website refused to delete two articles that implicate Turkey as supporters of terrorist groups involved in the Syrian Civil War. Turkey blames the information website to be part of an anti-Turkish campaign and denies all claims made against the country.

The officials at Turkey even sent documents to Wikipedia that prove the country is not part of any terrorist group. However, the Wikimedia Foundation – the publishers at Wikipedia refused to edit the uploaded articles as it violates their publishing and editing policy.

2. – Russia

The official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses is blocked in Russia as part of a nationwide ban.

The government of Russia has taken several legal actions against Jehovah’s Witnesses over the years that ultimately led to the ban. It also found several articles on the website offensive and claimed that they promoted hate, extremism, and a threat to the country. The supreme court of the Russian Federation has even ordered the JW group to forfeit all of its’ 395 churches in Russia to the government.

3. WhatsApp, Skype, SnapChat, FaceTime, and Telegram – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE

Middle Eastern countries have blocked Voice over Internet Protocol services (VoIP) and messaging apps/websites after a concern was raised that these medium will eat into the profits of the countries telecom companies.
Related: Global Internet Trends 2018: Almost 4.18 Billion Humans Are Online, 3.4 Billion Are Active Social Media Users
However, some websites and apps are unblocked after the companies receive licenses from their respective governments.

WhatsApp, Skype, SnapChat, FaceTime, and Telegram – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE

4. Vimeo – Indonesia

The government of Indonesia banned Vimeo along with several other websites when it found that the website contained nude and seductively dressed images of women. The country of Indonesia has a strict anti-pornography law, which allows the government to block any website with unsolicited material even if it is not an actual pornography website.

5. Telegram and Instagram – Iran

Both Telegram and Instagram received a ban in Iran for less than 15 days as a result of a nationwide protest that these websites/apps were promoting anti-government messages.

Apparently, Telegram and Instagram are dominating apps in Iran and the authorities had to put a blockage on them when they were unable to censor the anti-government channels on these apps. even after the services were unblocked, the government intentionally slowed down the speed of internet in Iran so messages were delivered at a snail’s pace.

6. – Russia hosted an anti-Islamic video titled “The Clangs of Swords” which the government of Russia found offensive and ordered the relevant admins to remove. However, did not comply that led to the ban.

Apart from, the government of Russia has blocked some 74,000 websites for various reasons.

7. Almost all western websites – China

Astoundingly, there is an entire generation of Chinese people who have never heard of websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Even Google and Wikipedia are banned in the country due to censorship issues.

Major tech companies like Facebook and Google even tried creating Chinese versions of their apps but China remained skeptical about their use as well.

8. Telegram, Amazon Cloud and Google Cloud

The government of Russia restricted Google and Amazon’s cloud platforms in an attempt to block Telegram when it heard rumors that terrorists were using the app to plan their attacks. Since Telegram does not use its own servers for Russian users, the government had no choice but to block more than 15.8 million IP addresses that were suspected to be used by Telegram. Unfortunately, this created a lot of problems as many of the blocked IP addresses were being used by Russian banks and online shops.

9. Reddit – Russia

Reddit is another website that received hardship from the government of Russia following an article that taught readers how to grow psychedelic mushrooms. The variety of mushrooms is illegal in most countries and can cause LSD in humans.

10. YouTube – China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Syria, Sudan, and South Sudan

YouTube faced a ban in Muslim countries after it published a controversial short film titled “The Innocence of Muslims” (2012). The website is also blocked in Sudan, South Sudan and Syria after the civil war.

10 Popular Websites That Were (Or Are) Blocked In Other Countries

However, countries such as Pakistan have unblocked the video streaming app when YouTube created local versions in order to permit censorship. Iran has also blocked and unblocked the same on many occasions including the time of the presidential elections in 2009.

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