Syria bans Facebook, all forms of poking

Syria has blocked access to Facebook in a crackdown on political dissidence. Activists within the country had been using Facebook groups to organize antigovernment groups. Right. Because online petitions are so effective against dictatorial regimes.

A human rights advocate says government censors claimed that "Facebook could become a conduit for Israeli penetration of our youth, but the real reason for blocking the forum [is] because it provides for criticism of the authorities." Penetration? Sounds like someone's taking Facebook's "poke" feature a little too seriously. Syria has been stepping up its Internet filtering in recent months, blocking newspapers, blogs and webmail sites like Hotmail. We noted several months ago that Syria is one of the Internet's "black holes." Well, there is one plus side for the Syrians. They don't have to deal with sheep and hamburgers being thrown at them. (Photo by AP)