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Mohamed Nanabhay on Al Jazeera’s online growth and the future of news distribution

The outgoing head of online for Al Jazeera English says media must continue to adapt to an audience that is driving and delivering news.

Mohamed Nanabhay likes to talk about something he calls “distributed distribution,” which, aside from being delightfully alliterative, might be a kind of rallying cry for the future of media.

“What that meant was that we shouldn’t think of ourselves as having a single venue where our content should be viewed,” said Nanabhay, the head online for Al Jazeera English. “We shouldn’t force people to come to our website if they want to view our content — rather we should move onto the platforms where communities have already formed and there are already big audiences.”

That’s a strategy that has worked for Nanabhay and Al Jazeera English: the site’s videos on YouTube generate around 2.5 million views a month; they have almost 1 million Twitter followers and just as many likes on Facebook. Maybe more importantly, Al Jazeera has turned around and used those alternate channels to bolster their news gathering, particularly throughout the events of the Arab Spring.

Nanabhay is stepping down as the online chief for Al Jazeera English and is planning his next big venture. But it’s worth looking at his time at Al Jazeera because it’s likely the idea of “distributed distribution” will be one of his legacies as it played a role in transforming the website of the Middle Eastern broadcaster into a experimental online news operation in itself.

“Previously, you relied on your correspondents and your wires or other news organizations, and suddenly you’re relying on the Internet effectively”

“We’ve done some great work over the years, especially the last two years with our coverage of the Arab Spring, and we built the website up to a place where I’m quite proud of it and quite happy both with the journalism we do and the form that we do it in,” Nanabhay told me.

Nanabhay has been with Al Jazeera more than 7 years, starting as the head of new media, a kind of digital projects division that allowed Nanabhay and his team to experiment with many of the things that are common practice at Al Jazeera English today: using social media in reporting and distribution, cultivating video from citizens, exploring the use of mobile tools for news. One of the biggest accomplishments during his time was the decision to allow Al Jazeera footage to be licensed under Creative Commons. As he prepares to leave two months from now Al Jazeera English is poised for more growth, establishing a foothold here in the U.S.: at least 40 percent of the traffic to Aljazeera.com comes from America.

“The English channel has been on the air for 6 years now, so we’re quite young, we’re quite nimble,” he said. “And in terms of international news, especially with our English channel now, we are a global player. But we have to fight to be recognized as such.”

Balancing what the audience expects with what’s useful

While Al Jazeera English is celebrated for its website and digital journalism today, in the beginning it was no different from other broadcasters who had to reconcile the need to produce broadcast-quality news and the demands of a website. “There’s always this tension between the broadcast side of the business and the online side of the business,” Nanabhay said. “People who produce television are extremely good at what they do and they are steeped in the medium and they feel that’s what’s important, that’s what people want. I think it’s a matter of balancing what the audience expects online and what’s going to be useful for them.”

Nanabhay said those early tests using YouTube, both to distribute video produced from the newsroom and to capture events recorded by citizens, showed the value of working differently. Similarly, the entire staff went through social media training — not to make everyone an expert, but to raise their awareness of the tools available and competing channels for information, he said. It may not be necessary for editors to be fluent in social media and aggregation, but it’s valuable for them to be aware of it as a source. As Nanabhay said “So when things kicked off, they knew there was this Twitter thing and they knew they needed to use it.”

Into the Arab Spring

And then Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt happened. A sizable chunk of Al Jazeera’s coverage area in the Middle East was in upheaval. As the job of reporting in many of these countries became more difficult, either due to violence or state censorship, the reporting output switched to the web. Nanabhay said one thing that is overlooked when considering the role social media played in their coverage is the fact that Twitter and Facebook would not have been effective if Al Jazeera’s journalists weren’t familiar with the people, activists and other groups providing updates from the ground.

“What we saw in Egypt, and we see this with Occupy as well, is the ability of the Internet and people in general to be able to shape what’s newsworthy”

“The use of citizen media, both in terms of being able to find the information, verify the information and then produce it was obviously challenging, especially at the height of the Arab Spring when a lot of this material was based off citizen media,” Nanabhay said.

As ready as they may have been, it did require realigning Al Jazeera’s newsroom to focus attention on the flow of information online. Where tweeting and blog updates had once been a secondary concern, there were now dedicated staffers covering those jobs around the clock. “Previously, you relied on your correspondents and your wires or other news organizations, and suddenly you’re relying on the Internet effectively,” he said.

One thing Nanabhay is particularly proud of is the evolution of liveblogging on Aljazeera.com. The format made sense during the early days of the revolution in Egypt as well as the protests in Yemen, when news would come in through short bursts that would typically not be big enough to carry a full story. It wasn’t long before they saw a change in where eyeballs where going on the site. “After a couple of days of doing this we noticed that at certain points in the day our liveblog would have 10 times the amount of traffic on it than the lead story would have,” he said.

“What’s changed now is the context has moved from that particular video package into a stream of content”

As with most broadcasters, video remains a very big driver for Al Jazeera, and that was no different during the Arab Spring, where views of the network’s live feed jumped 2,500 percent during peak Egypt coverage. But Nanabhay said the attention to the liveblogs continued to increase as well, and they now have liveblogs with a constant stream of news for Bahrain, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria.

Changing news consumption

If there’s a reason liveblogs and live video do well, it’s because the audience now has an expectation of being to drill down into a topic, quickly. At the same time, the relative size of updates we receive on Twitter and Facebook are shorter than the average news story and have changed the atomic unit of news. How media organizations respond to that will determine their success online, Nanabhay said.

“We’ve historically produced a unit of content that contains the entire story, so it has all the context built in. We have the introduction, we have the meat, we have a conclusion and that’s a story or a video package. What’s changed now is the context has moved from that particular video package into a stream of content,” he said. “So each of those individual tweets and Facebook updates and YouTube videos themselves wouldn’t provide you with context. But if you look at a stream of data coming through you would see a bigger picture.”

One of the reasons Nanabhay is so bullish on liveblogs is because of the ability to thread all that information together to create cohesive stories. The value journalists can provide is as a curator of that information, but also delivering that news wherever readers are. That’s why alongside Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, Al Jazeera English also is active on Reddit. It’s also why they launched The Stream, a show deeply immersed in social media.

That’s “distributed distribution” in action, as a means for journalists to continue their work and build audiences. Al Jazeera English is a distributed network that reaches out to its audience wherever it is at any given moment. One of the reasons Nanabhay is so optimistic about a future where journalists and citizens collaborate in storytelling is because of the possibilities of technology. Thanks to smartphones, journalists and civilians alike are producing more media than ever before, which is something news outlets need to embrace and facilitate, Nanabhay said.

“What we saw in Egypt, and we see this with Occupy as well, is the ability of the Internet and people in general to be able to shape what’s newsworthy,” Nanabhay said. “I think that’s quite powerful. I think it’s not a matter of them taking journalists’ jobs — that’s just the way the Internet’s evolved and the way information now flows.”

Photo of Nanabhay from Joi Ito used under a Creative Commons license.

                                   
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  • Anonymous

    keep up the good work, I adore ALJ – it’s the only english language big news site with a little different point of view, than the usual suspects

  • http://twitter.com/stephen_abbott Stephen Abbott

    Anyone interested in this might like to watch the Guardian’s video interview with Wadah Khanfar, the former director general of the al-Jazeera network:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2012/mar/27/wadah-khanfar-new-journalism-arab-world-video

    (Full disclosure: I work at the Guardian)

  • Ashy Kimgaarts

    Liveblogging? I don’t think it means anything other than copying stuff from wires/news agencies and pasting onto the website. I would never encourage my journalists to do such stuff.

  • http://www.moviein3d.net Caitlin

    Al Jazeera is owned by the state of Qatar where no legislative elections are held, they are ruled by an absolute monarchy, based on that alone I don’t think they can do a good job at informing people, specially when it comes to freedom.

  • Max Smith

    Caitlin – maybe you should actually watch the network before passing such a sweeping judgement

  • Colin

    It helps if the moderation is effective – it certainly was used by Libyans and expats during 2011. Assad supporters appear to have learned from this and have repeatedly attacked the blogs- The Syrian Electronic army has twice attacked AJE live blogs and multiple spamming is in progress often which the moderators appear unable to halt.

  • Marevostrum

    One of the key things is, having built an online community, to keep it. AJE built up a great deal of respect during the Libya crisis, when its blogs were used as “real time citizen journalism” by Libyans abroad and in-country. In the case of Syria, while this has begun to happen, AJE have neglected the technical side, allowing pro-regime spammers to disrupt the blog continuously. 
    Where AJE gained a lead from Libya, it’s in real danger of losing it over Syria, as the citizen journalist community migrates to forums which respect them more and don’t let regime propagandists take over its platform so easily.
    Is AJE a case of first adopter of an exciting new medium, only then to fall behind when it rests on its laurels?

  • http://twitter.com/mcanterel3 Martial Canterel

    Please take a few minutes to open your eyes, your mind and your heart to the other side of the story!The majority of Syrians are opposed to the armed rebels, even though they wish to reform Syria and harbor no good feeling for their current government or regime!We welcome and cheer all peaceful, patriotic, creative opposition rallies and events.We abhor the armed mercenaries paid by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.We fear the immoral aggression of NATO, which has already destroyed two Arab countries in the region, committing and helping commit genocide (Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011).We all want a more democratic and free Syria, but mostly we want more social and economical  justice to the large portion of the Syrian population that is disenfranchised (who are being manipulated by the foreign opposition). Particularly the young and unemployed population.We do not care about the Baath or Assad, but we feel the absolutist call to ‘eradicate’ them is a hidden agenda for civil strife.We are proud of our National Syrian Army, and are heartened by the sacrifices it has presented to preserve the nation and the people. Any call to target our beloved Army is a heinous call against ALL the Syrian people!We can build on the past, rejecting injustice, keeping social progress, negotiating, reconciling, instead of destroying our country and people in a civil and religious conflict that ONLY serves the enemy of our country.Libya is not a good example of the people achieving freedom: it is an example of Western aggression imposing a minority on the majority.Iraq is not a good example of liberation. It is an example of US imperialism imposing regime change through genocide.Likewise, most NATO or Western interventions are motivated by these countries greed and hegemony needs, and ALWAYS led and will lead to a far worsened situation for the population involved.As such we reject all intervention, because we see clearly through it the act of aggression of the powerful against the weak.Please stop blindly supporting your governments’ justification for threatening Syria and its people, and imposing sanctions that are killing us, and not the regime.But mostly, please stop supporting armed mercenaries paid by foreign countries. No country would accept such a loss of sovereignty. And rightfully we are in support of our government when it aims to disarm these mercenaries.Long live secular, sovereign, free, united Syria!We are Sunni! We are Jewish! We are Christian! We are Alawite! We are Druze! We are Shi’a! We are Atheists!But above all, we are Arabs & Kurds, all S Y R I A N S !!!

  • Def_izit == bb_king and vv

    AJE Blogs are unattended and will loose its credibility

    Spambots could block any chat by up to 40.000 spams in 24 hrs

    the head of AJE-Online does not answer any tweet – looks like he is ignoring it 

    in short – an importand blog but NO moderation – the weakest i ever saw

  • VT

    I have been a more or less daily contributor to AJE interactive blogs on political issues for the past 12 months and greatly appreciate the service to the public such blogs provide.  There are, however, a few problems that AJE should look into and speedily solve/correct.

    [1]  AJE  is strangely inconsistent in its oversight of its interactive blogs: far too frequently, when the blogs come under flooding attacks by spambots, it takes several hours before the AJE staff respond to reader e-mails alerting them of the problem. 

    [2]  Second, while its Terms and Conditions clearly state that scurrilous or insulting/offensive language will not be tolerated on the blogs as it disrupts the necessary level of civility in public communication, quite frequently, offensive terms do somehow manage to sneak by the AJE’s automated language-detection program (which is what I assume the company is using). 

    [3]  Third, while its Terms and Conditions also explicitly state that posts written in languages other than English are not acceptable on its English-language blogs, such posts very often to make it to the blogs — again, a problem with the company’s language-detection software. 

    [4]  Finally, I have personally experienced several instances of moderator censorship on AJE’s blogs (other frequent bloggers have experienced and commented on the same): this last is the most disturbing phenomenon of all as it directly impedes free flow and exchange of information and contravenes the basic rules of journalism, including citizen journalism of the sort the blogs serve.

  • VT

    I have been a more or less daily contributor to AJE interactive blogs on political issues for the past 12 months and greatly appreciate the service to the public such blogs provide.  There are, however, a few problems that AJE should look into and speedily solve/correct.

    [1]  AJE  is strangely inconsistent in its oversight of its interactive blogs: far too frequently, when the blogs come under flooding attacks by spambots, it takes several hours before the AJE staff respond to reader e-mails alerting them of the problem. 

    [2]  Second, while its Terms and Conditions clearly state that scurrilous or insulting/offensive language will not be tolerated on the blogs as it disrupts the necessary level of civility in public communication, quite frequently, offensive terms do somehow manage to sneak by the AJE’s automated language-detection program (which is what I assume the company is using). 

    [3]  Third, while its Terms and Conditions also explicitly state that posts written in languages other than English are not acceptable on its English-language blogs, such posts very often to make it to the blogs — again, a problem with the company’s language-detection software. 

    [4]  Finally, I have personally experienced several instances of moderator censorship on AJE’s blogs (other frequent bloggers have experienced and commented on the same): this last is the most disturbing phenomenon of all as it directly impedes free flow and exchange of information and contravenes the basic rules of journalism, including citizen journalism of the sort the blogs serve.

  • VT

    I have been a more or less daily contributor to AJE interactive blogs on political issues for the past 12 months and greatly appreciate the service to the public such blogs provide.  There are, however, a few problems that AJE should look into and speedily solve/correct.

    [1]  AJE  is strangely inconsistent in its oversight of its interactive blogs: far too frequently, when the blogs come under flooding attacks by spambots, it takes several hours before the AJE staff respond to reader e-mails alerting them of the problem. 

    [2]  Second, while its Terms and Conditions clearly state that scurrilous or insulting/offensive language will not be tolerated on the blogs as it disrupts the necessary level of civility in public communication, quite frequently, offensive terms do somehow manage to sneak by the AJE’s automated language-detection program (which is what I assume the company is using). 

    [3]  Third, while its Terms and Conditions also explicitly state that posts written in languages other than English are not acceptable on its English-language blogs, such posts very often to make it to the blogs — again, a problem with the company’s language-detection software. 

    [4]  Finally, I have personally experienced several instances of moderator censorship on AJE’s blogs (other frequent bloggers have experienced and commented on the same): this last is the most disturbing phenomenon of all as it directly impedes free flow and exchange of information and contravenes the basic rules of journalism, including citizen journalism of the sort the blogs serve.

  • VT

    I have been a more or less daily contributor to AJE interactive blogs on political issues for the past 12 months and greatly appreciate the service to the public such blogs provide.  There are, however, a few problems that AJE should look into and speedily solve/correct.

    [1]  AJE  is strangely inconsistent in its oversight of its interactive blogs: far too frequently, when the blogs come under flooding attacks by spambots, it takes several hours before the AJE staff respond to reader e-mails alerting them of the problem. 

    [2]  Second, while its Terms and Conditions clearly state that scurrilous or insulting/offensive language will not be tolerated on the blogs as it disrupts the necessary level of civility in public communication, quite frequently, offensive terms do somehow manage to sneak by the AJE’s automated language-detection program (which is what I assume the company is using). 

    [3]  Third, while its Terms and Conditions also explicitly state that posts written in languages other than English are not acceptable on its English-language blogs, such posts very often to make it to the blogs — again, a problem with the company’s language-detection software. 

    [4]  Finally, I have personally experienced several instances of moderator censorship on AJE’s blogs (other frequent bloggers have experienced and commented on the same): this last is the most disturbing phenomenon of all as it directly impedes free flow and exchange of information and contravenes the basic rules of journalism, including citizen journalism of the sort the blogs serve.

  • VT

    I have been a more or less daily contributor to AJE interactive blogs on political issues for the past 12 months and greatly appreciate the service to the public such blogs provide.  There are, however, a few problems that AJE should look into and speedily solve/correct.

    [1]  AJE  is strangely inconsistent in its oversight of its interactive blogs: far too frequently, when the blogs come under flooding attacks by spambots, it takes several hours before the AJE staff respond to reader e-mails alerting them of the problem. 

    [2]  Second, while its Terms and Conditions clearly state that scurrilous or insulting/offensive language will not be tolerated on the blogs as it disrupts the necessary level of civility in public communication, quite frequently, offensive terms do somehow manage to sneak by the AJE’s automated language-detection program (which is what I assume the company is using). 

    [3]  Third, while its Terms and Conditions also explicitly state that posts written in languages other than English are not acceptable on its English-language blogs, such posts very often to make it to the blogs — again, a problem with the company’s language-detection software. 

    [4]  Finally, I have personally experienced several instances of moderator censorship on AJE’s blogs (other frequent bloggers have experienced and commented on the same): this last is the most disturbing phenomenon of all as it directly impedes free flow and exchange of information and contravenes the basic rules of journalism, including citizen journalism of the sort the blogs serve.

  • http://twitter.com/mcanterel3 Martial Canterel

    According to AJE, this video shows a helicopter attack on Idleb!
    http://youtu .be/DOZStZx5X0E

    Joke of the day!

  • http://twitter.com/mcanterel3 Martial Canterel

    According to AJE, this video shows a helicopter attack on Idleb!
    http://youtu .be/DOZStZx5X0E
    (Referred to in the “Syria” blog on April 16 2012, top of the page!)
    HILARIOUS!

  • http://twitter.com/mcanterel3 Martial Canterel

    According to AJE, this video shows a helicopter attack on Idleb!

    http://youtu .be/DOZStZx5X0E

    (Referred to in the “AJE Syria” blog top of the page!)

    HILARIOUS!

    No one can rationally take Al Jazeera seriously!

  • Colin

     Yet that IS a helicopter attacking Idleb- you are in denial MC- best stick with spamming the AJE blogs I think eh?

  • Colin

    “Andreas Osterhagen
    Warmongers,
    why the hate of Syria? You always want blood, suffering and killings?
    Will you accept peace talks between the government and the opposition
    (the internal patriotic one of course)?

    Like
    Reply”An example of the automated spam AJE moderators seem unable to handle. The post will appear under different names- all pregenerated spam.

    The inability of AJE to moderate against this means many bloggers now use other platforms- of course the automated spamming does inflate AJEs data- but it is fast becoming a joke.

  • Def_izit == bb_king and vv

    Still attacks on AJE BLOGs – we offered Mohamed Nanabhay  to assist AJE with lists of SpamBot-accounts – registration mailer etc – no reaction from AJE – ppl across arab and maghreb world are fed up by this performance

  • Marevostrum

    Awards and appearances are one thing, and perhaps Mr Nanabhay deserves the accolades he receives. It’s an oddly “top-down” approach, however, in place  the more democratic user-focused methodology one would have expected in a social-media savvy operative. As tech company after tech company has found, when you neglect your user base, they vanish. AJE allowed a wonderful blog community to flourish as the Arab Spring unfolded, but then, when the plaudits came in, they abandoned it.
    What’s worse, they abandoned it by not taking some very simple technical steps – effective human moderation of a small number of hugely active blogs, setting in place of spam filters. It’s all stuff that would take a few hours of management time, but instead, a great opportunity will have been lost.
    I imagine in a year’s time, when AJE has lost its enormous community of committed, active AJE-friendly citizen bloggers, they’ll find some other reason for this failure. But the blame lies firmly with senior management who didn’t take the “little steps”.

  • Colin

    “Finlay McLean
    A**holes, you are the scum of Humanity!”

    A charming example of the spam AJE is unable to stop…

  • Colin

      “Hermann Ingason
    A sure thing: A woman stoned to death in Saudi Arabia”

    I would hold off any accolades of AJE at the moment… Unable to stop comments like this being spammed

  • Colin

      “Hreinn Olgeirsson
    Fools, you are tweety tweets!”

  • Colin

     Def – the only true‏@def_izitReplyRetweetedRetweetDeleteFavoritedFavorite· Close Open Details
    @AJEnglish @AJStream #AJE-Online – the-future-of-news-distribution on #AJE-Online became the-Present-of-Spam-distribution

  • NannyAJ

    The problem with AJE Live Blogs is that some of them attract spammers.  It becomes impossible to read through the comments when they consist of the same couple of messages repeated ad infinitum.  This is in variance with AJE above stated intention and the consequence will be “citizen journalists” will walk away and find a more congenial platform.

    Will anyone read this?  I have to hope so.    

  • Colin

      bilqis  Hi def, sorry
    to be late. Business calling; This spamming has become ridiculous.
    Either aje and disqus have sided with the regime or really they have
    decided not to do anything. disqus as a portail is a real sh ! t .

  • Colin

     I dont know if they will read it- but they certainly dislike some of the spammed comments copied from the unmoderated AJE blogs!

  • Colin

      Jon Williams‏@WilliamsJonReplyRetweetedRetweetDeleteFavoritedFavorite· Close Open DetailsBBC
    team witnessed #Syria ceasefire collapse in Idlib. Jebal al-Zawiyah hit
    by helicopters, tanks, artillery. Casualties in field hospitals.Retweeted by edward dark

  • Def_izit == bb_king and vv

    Thats new media á la Mohamed – no admin but blocking critics on non Admin

     @mohamed @AJStream “Sorry, you have been blocked from commenting on this site.” – WHAT SHIT is this – I didnt Spam or Insult – #Assad thugs?

  • Marevostrum

    Sites such as the Guardian, Telegraph, BBC, CNN take a much more hands-on approach to moderation. Although this could be said to stifle, to some extent, the flow of information/comments from the blogging community, the alternative approach, which AJE seems to have evolved, which is to do no moderation, or even – there are strong suggestions – to censor pro-Arab spring bloggers and allow unfettered spamming by regime information operatives, is clearly not the way forward for a media organization which has ambitions to be at the forefront of the social media revolution.

  • Stefan Vogel

    Spammers of AJE Syria comments: balkis, bilqis, def_izit, clem_the_lizard, jdiepstraten, ps_ca, bivi, fryzia, and many others who comment here.

    Most probably paid mossad youth agents.

  • Colin

     I think that just shows the warped doublespeak thinking of the people behind the spamming “Stefan”

  • Colin

    AJE has unfortunately lost the ball with its citizen journalism- while fairly good in while covering Libya, a determined attempt to spam the blogs has put off many citizen journalists who are now either using twitter or other platforms as their main means of communicating.
    The failure to adaquately monitor and moderate the blog, combined with inconsistent application of the rules has meant that while the number of posts on the site has increased,  that is largely due to spamming by pro regime elements using automated messages and accounts created to take advantage of loopholes in Disqus.
    This has meant a lowering in the quality and content in the posts- although as site traffic is up I am sure thats a “win” for AJE management.
    Pity a system that had such potential has been neglected so very badly.

  • Colin

     Third attempt-
    AJE has failed to moderate the live blogs effectively- most citizen journalists now use other media platforms. AJE lost them before it realised how valuable they were. Now the blogs are filled with automated spam from pregenerated accounts.

  • Wosson

     bird brain Vogel

  • Colin

     Good- I see what you did there- Vogel… Bird.. hehe

  • saranaghati

    Hi Everyone- good move

  • saranaghati

    Just
    read CNN News, and I am so angry. They are running an analysis saying
    that the cease fire is helping Assad. And they are running the story of
    the wives of UN ambasadors taking up a petition and sending to Mrs.
    Assad asking for peace. Why not have a Maypole Dance for peace? Why not
    have a bake sale for peace? God help us. We need Zero Hour. If I thought
    they whole establishment did not actually know what is going on, I
    would try to educate them- but they know. they know. They have more
    knowledge than we do. What are they afraid of? War with Russia? War with
    Iran? Bring it on. I am not willing to pay for their idea of peace with
    innocent Syrian blood! Enough! I am going to the streets. I am going to
    protest too. And I would consider it an honor to go to jail for it. I
    will do everything I can to expand Zero Hour in my own city!
     

  • saranaghati

    from the Syrian American Council

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified on the situation in Syria
    Thursday at a House Armed Services Committee Hearing. “Make no mistake,”
    he said, “this regime will meet its end.” Panetta told the Committee
    that the unrest in Syria has weakened Iran’s position in the region
    and confirmed that Iran is supplying the Assad regime with weapons and
    other assistance.

  • Stefan Vogel

    AJE Syria Blogs comments sections are functionning normally, however a collection of users are complaining about them because they do not like the dissenting comments. Some users want only to see pro-rebels comments on the blogs. Why? Many patriot Syrians are posting peaceful and useful messages all day. Syrians are asking all sides to stop the fighting and negotiate!