Iraq blocks Twitter, Google, YouTube and Facebook in effort to stifle insurgency

The Iraqi government has essentially shut off all social networking in the country in an effort to stem the rising tide of insurgent group Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The country has found itself thrown into chaos recently as the Islamist militants have overrun the cities of Mosul, Falluja and Ramadi in a march towards Baghdad. Isis, like many of the rebellions in the region recently, has made heavy use of social media for both propaganda and organization. In particular the group has spread its hard line religious and anti-western message via YouTube. Presumably prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has had the services blocked in an effort to disrupt Isis's movement and planning, and perhaps give the government's troops an opportunity to strike back.

Of course, it's no surprise that the militants have turned to social media (just as it's no surprise to see the government block it when under threat). Plenty of organizations have turned to YouTube as a means to spread their message, even if it is one hate. And uprisings that perhaps we're more sympathetic too have relied on Twitter for organizing protests and drawing attention to government abuses. And often the response of those in power has been to block those lines of communication at any cost -- even if that means taking an entire country offline. Hopefully any censorship in Iraq will prove to be short lived and citizens there can carry on Instagramming their lunch without fear of becoming yet another victim in this tireless conflict.

Update: Both Twitter and Youtube have said they are looking into the situation, confirming to VentureBeat that "some users are not able to access" the services in Iraq, according to YouTube. Facebook chimed in too, though its statement address the political situation more directly:

We are disturbed by reports of access issues in Iraq and are investigating. Limiting access to Internet services - essential for communication and commerce for millions of people - is a matter of concern for the global community.