Facebook Messenger and Imo banned in Saudi Arabia

The takedown of voice and video calling on Facebook Messenger, follows a pattern of such features of communication apps not working any more.

Some features of Facebook Messenger were banned in Saudi Arabia. The sudden takedown of voice and video calling on Facebook Messenger, follows a pattern of such communication apps not working any more. In particular, the voice and video calling features of these apps are said to be blocked. The calling feature was already not working on WhatsApp and Viber. Along with Facebook Messenger, the functionality disappeared from Imo as well. During voice calls, there is a ringing alert, but the line does not connect when answered. Tango is reportedly an app that still supports this feature, and is still working.

When attempting to make voice calls on these banned applications, there is a pop-up on screen with the words "calling unavailable because your carrier or country does not support the service." The move has dismayed locals, but those vocal about their discontent on online communities are the expats.

The blocking of these applications and services are apparently on the basis of lobbying by Telecom operators according to Arab News. The move seems to be aimed at protecting the revenues of the local telecom operators. Instant messaging apps with voice calling functionality are entering the space traditionally dominated by telecom operators all around the world. Telecom operators are delegated to the position of internet service providers.

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