Social media is incredibly scary to repressive governments because it is just about impossible to control. Many authoritarian governments even look to incredibly censored North Korea and Eritrea as role models, instead of cautionary tales. Although the US government has announced sanctions against countries that try to block Internet access, international disapproval is unlikely to sway these oppressors from their path – especially when a nation finds itself worried about popular revolution, ala Syria and Iran.
Here’s some recent example of governments’ attempts to block out the Internet – particularly in those countries where, to some extent, the proverbial cat is already out of the bag. (Once people have access to the Internet and some modicum of wealth, getting them to give it up is a lot harder – another reason North Korea and Eritrea present something of a perfect scenario to many dictatorial regimes).
Although these are disturbing cases of government repression in action, I also find these cases rather heartening – mainly because government attempts to prevent Internet access rarely last very long, or work particularly well. It’s also worth pointing out that stagnant development and heavy censorship have a nasty habit of going hand-in-hand.