Syrian government newspaper accuses Facebook of conspiring against the country

By: Helmi Noman on 11 May 2011

Syrian government-run al-Thawar newspaper has accused Facebook’s administration of conspiring against the Syrian people. The paper has also announced that pro-regime Syrian programmers are currently preparing a surprise for Facebook.

The paper said in an unsigned editorial [AR] on May 7, 2011 that it is clear that Facebook has sided with the “so called revolutionaries” in Syria. The editorial also accused the site of having double standards because it allegedly shut down pages belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army without any justification or prior notice. The paper added that Facebook has restored a page for the “so called Syrian revolution after it was hacked and deleted by a Syrian University engineering student.” The paper claimed the restored Facebook page conspires against Syria, spreads rumors, creates problems, and disseminates information on how to vandalize properties to keep the Syrian security forces busy so that they cannot perform their normal duties. Instead of shutting down this page, Facebook restored it after it was hacked and supported it with “fake fans from different nationalities who have nothing to do with Syria,” the paper added.

The newspaper said the Syrian Electronic Army Facebook page has organized "virtual demonstrations which visited the pages of U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other presidents and international figures to show support to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, and to reject fueling sectarianisms in Syrian and foreign intervention in local affairs."

The administrator of Syrian Electronic Army Facebook page was cited by the newspaper as saying that Facebook’s action is rude, and that alternative pages will be created. He advised Facebook to shut down the pro-revolution Facebook pages if Facebook wants the Syrian Electronic Army pages to be deleted.

The administrator added that programmers from Syrian universities are currently preparing an “unforgettable surprise for Facebook,” without providing any further details.

Earlier this month, ONI Middle East and North African researchers found that the Syrian Electronic Army Facebook pages have actually been making available to their membership a number of DDOS and hacking software applications and have been asking their followers to hack oppositional websites. Members of these pages agree in advance on what the next online target will be and when and how to attack it.

Since the beginning of the protests in Syria in January 2011, the Internet, especially Facebook and Youtube, has been a battlefield between anti-regime activists and regime supporters. A number of websites have been hacked on both sides, most notably the website of the Syrian Parliament and the website of the government-run newspaper Tishreen.