Social Media>> CLONE • Uzbekistan
At first glance, it looks like Facebook with a different script. But it is actually a clone. Youface.uz’s resemblance to Facebook does not stop with the welcome page. Ayub Abdulloh, the site’s founder, told news agency RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service his website may look like the world’s biggest social networking site but this is just to help it gather new members. As his site gets more users, this will be changed.
Launched on May 21, Youface has 300 members as of May 31. But Abdulloh has high hopes. He says Youface intends to “develop patriotic spirit in our youth.” However, when RFE/RL attempted to post material from its website, it was promptly deleted. While Uzbekistan blocks the websites of many foreign and independent news sources, including RFE/RL and the BBC, for the most part social networks are permitted, with exceptions of Russian blogging platform LiveJournal and Wikipedia.
But after the role social media played in the Arab Spring and in organising protests in Belarus and Russia, it has become a dirty word in Uzbek state media. So it’s no coincidence that Abdulloh takes pains to promote his social network as “clean” and “patriotic”.