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Saudi Arabia May End Anonymous Twitter Use, Require Official ID To Monitor, Control Access

Saudi Arabia is considering ending anonymous use of Twitter in the country, restricting access only to citizens who register their identification documents, reports Al Jazeera, citing Arab News.

With more than three million active Twitter users, Saudi Arabia not only leads the Middle East, but, with a 300 percent year-on-year growth rate, actually ranks number one in the world as the fastest-growing Twitter nation.

Moreover, Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is one of Twitter’s biggest investors, following a $300 million “strategic stake” in Twitter in 2011.

However, the country has a chequered history with social media, with the nation taking a strong stance against activists and other individuals who use platforms such as Twitter to speak out against the KSA.

“There are people who misuse the social networking and try to send false information and false evaluation of the situation in the kingdom and the way the policemen in the kingdom are dealing with these situations,” said Major General Mansour Turki, the KSA’s security spokesman, at a news conference earlier this month.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, the kingdom’s top cleric, described users of Twitter as “clowns”, and the platform itself as a place for those who “unleash unjust, incorrect and wrong tweets”.

Arab News reported that one way that Twitter might be controlled by the Saudi Arabian authorities is to insist on a user’s identification numbers when they top up credit on their mobile phones, allowing the Saudi government to monitor their tweets. How they would then further this to limit access to certain users was not disclosed.

(Source: Al Jazeera. Saudi Arabia button image via Shutterstock.)

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