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Saudi Arabia Reminds Social Media Users That Criticism Of The Regime Is Illegal

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State media in Saudi Arabia has reminded Snapchat and other social media platforms’ users that insulting the regime is a criminal offense. Several Snapchat influencers and users in the kingdom have been arrested and some handed decades-long sentences.

The news segment, originally aired in April then deleted, was an interview of a man who was in jail over a tweet that criticized the regime. The segment was reposted by human rights group ALQST after the state broadcaster deleted it.

The man shared his regret over the tweet and said that there were others in jail over social media posts.

The presenter of the segment thanked the man for educating others, adding: “Most of those seeing you will probably have an account on Twitter or an account on Snapchat or so on, so maybe they will see your case and pray for you that almighty god will bring about your release … because you have made them aware.”

According to court documents reviewed by The Guardian, Manahel al-Otaibi, a Snapchat user in Saudi was arrested towards the end of last year for privately posting a picture where she was not in an abaya. She was charged with indecent dressing. However, it is unclear how Saudi authorities got access to the image.

In another case, Snapchat influencer Mansour Al-Raqiba was sentenced to 27 years in prison for social media posts that suggested he was blackmailed for criticizing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 economic plan.

Snapchat’s policies state that it has the discretion to provide account records to government agencies in response to legal requests provided the requested data is not IP data and “basic subscriber information.”

A spokesperson for the social media company said: “We uphold and respect the value of universal human rights and our goal is to serve our community, enabling them to unleash their creativity and broaden their understanding of the world.”

The company denies providing private user data to the Saudi government in Otaibi’s case.

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