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For Activists, the Syrian Internet Hasn't Gone Dark — It's Just a Dark Place

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, July 13 2011

Fear of Syrian government retaliation against people who use social media to find and coordinate protests is now keeping Syrians off those platforms, Reuters reports:

I am too scared to speak about my political activity on Facebook," said a 21-year-old activist, who asked to be referred to as Rana.

"I'm not going to open a Twitter account," she said, referring to the micro-blogging website where users post 140-character "Tweets."

Rana's fears stem from the widespread belief that government hackers are browsing the Internet to search for dissidents and tracking them down via social media websites.

Activists tell a Reuters reporter — byline withheld, the wire service notes, to protect both reporter and sources — that they are instead hoping to spread the word through word of mouth or instant messaging services.

And live video streaming, Reuters reports, has been put into play as a way to share footage peaceful demonstrations that cannot be challenged as inauthentic.

The story ends with this:

But the Syrian government, Ammar said, is trying very hard to outwit bloggers and human rights activists.

"On days when a lot of people are killed, the government will just shut down the Internet. Then nobody knows."