Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Twitter’s Periscope streaming service blocked in UAE

Frustrated users take to Twitter to complain after telecoms regulator pulls plug on smartphone streaming service.

ABU DHABI // Fans of the new social media platform Periscope have found themselves looking at blank screens.

The app, launched by Twitter on March 26, enables users to broadcast live video from their smartphones to followers around the world.

Since last Wednesday, however, the app has been blocked in the UAE and users can access it only through a VPN, or virtual private network.

The regulator, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, refused to comment, but Periscope acknowledged the problem and said it was working to resolve it. 

A spokesperson for Twitter, which purchased the app in March for more than Dh360 million, said the company was aware of “access issues” in the UAE. It would not comment on whether the service had been blocked by the TRA.

Disappointed users took to Twitter to question the regulator and the telecoms networks Etisalat and du. 

One user tweeted: “Periscope seems to have been blocked in the UAE. Streams unavailable over the past 24 hrs on Etisalat & Du. @TheUAETRA silent on the issue.”

Another user tweeted: “@TheUAETRA why’s #periscope banned in #UAE? We need answers.”

One social media user in Abu Dhabi suspected the TRA had blocked the platform because of some of the content being streamed. 

“I think it is because it is being used by some people as a flirting tool.”

He said since the app was still new, it would not yet affect social media strategies. 

“Many media professionals haven’t invested heavily enough in this platform. So we can just adjust and move to other platforms.”

After its launch, Periscope had taken off instantly in the UAE. Users have been sharing their daily routines, professional tips, discussing current affairs and taking followers on virtual walking tours around Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

Although Periscope does not release usage statistics by country, the popularity of the app can be gauged by the number of times it is mentioned on Twitter, where users advertise their live broadcasts.

According to data compiled by Sysomos from May to July, Periscope was mentioned more than 46,600 times in the UAE, mostly by users in Dubai.

There were 6,149 mentions in Saudi Arabia, 2,697 in Egypt and 2,486 in Lebanon.

Outside the region, the app was mentioned more than 1.8 million times in the United States and 248,700 times in the UK during the same period.

On August 2, Periscope registered 10 million accounts worldwide and said about 40 years worth of videos were watched on the platform each day. 

While it is unavailable, a number of options remain for self-broadcasting over the web.

The live video streaming app Meerkat, with about two million users, offers a mobile option, while Twitch.tv – a web-based gaming streaming platform – claims 100 million viewers a month.

Periscope, along with applications such as Tinder, Skype and Facebook Video, can still be used with a VPN.

Periscope is being used by broadcasters such as the BBC and CNBC, and companies such as Nissan, Frito Lay and DKNY have used it to promote their products.



Updated: August 24, 2015 04:00 AM

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