Saudi Arabia Discovers The Streisand Effect; Gets Netflix To Take Down Hasan Minhaj's Show About MBS's Atrocities

from the bad-ideas-all-around dept

Back in October, comedian Hasan Minhaj's show Patriot Act on Netflix did a pretty thorough critique of Saudi Arabia and its leader Mohammad bin Salman, often referred to as MBS. Go watch it here:

It covers a lot of ground, from the death of Jamal Khashoggi to MBS's arresting of a bunch of his cousins to the catastrophic situation in Yemen... and the complicity of the US government and much of Silicon Valley who has taken Saudi money.

Not surprisingly, the Saudi government was not thrilled with this episode, or the fact that it was available via Netflix in the country. So, as first reported by the Financial Times (behind a paywall), and since reported in tons of other places, Netflix has agreed to pull that episode in Saudi Arabia in response to a "legal request."

Apparently, the "legal request" referenced a cybercrime law that says "production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers" is a crime that can lead to imprisonment and fines. Cyber lese majeste, basically.

Not surprisingly, the move by Netflix is leading to tons of criticism directed at both Netflix and Saudi Arabia (but mostly at Netflix for caving).

Of course, this has also generated a lot more interest in that particular episode -- which, again, Netflix has left up on YouTube (and which, it appears, is still available via YouTube in Saudi Arabia). It is the Streisand Effect in action -- and, one might argue that Netflix knew that this was the likely outcome. As such, it not only gets to "avoid" whatever criminal punishment was being threatened by Saudi Arabia, but also gets more attention to this particular pointed criticism of MBS... and, as a side benefit, gets a lot more attention for its Patriot Act show.

Filed Under: censorship, hasan minhaj, mbs, mohammad bin salman, patriot act, saudi arabia, silicon valley, streisand effect, yemen
Companies: netflix


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 11:28am

    Hate this garbage about private companies caving into requests.

    Private companies are not countries, you didn't elect Netflix into office.

    They are there to make money. There is no such thing as 'ethical capitalism', if it looks like a company is being ethical it's for a financial reason. Not a moral reason.

    If your job is to sell subscriptions of shows to a country and a country says "take this one episode down or so help me!" you take the damned episode down or you lose your job when the stock holders scream at you for losing an entire country because you didn't remove a single episode.

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