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


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.


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