Despite the autocracy’s best efforts, Internet usage has been growing in Uzbekistan in recent years. With that growth has come the government’s fear of an Arab Spring-style revolt fueled by social media. As a result, it looks like the government is keeping access to social media sites such as Facebook open to keep a pulse on its citizens.
EurasiaNet.org (by way of The Atlantic) has a story that covers President Islam Karimov’s call earlier this year to pay attention closer to the Internet, an announcement that led some young Internet users to think twice about saying anything political on the Internet.
The government interestingly decided not to shut down access to all corners of the Internet. With Facebook’s popularity growing in the country and potentially becoming a forum for political dissent, it has become a tool for monitoring. According to the story:
The security services “rely on Facebook and other social media sites to extract information about citizens,” said a Tashkent-based journalist who writes about media and technology. The journalist said that when a source was interviewed for a job at the National Security Service (SNB), his interviewers had printed copies of most of his Facebook activity.