Many in Azerbaijan had entertained hopes that, following his re-election in late 2013, President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan would ease repressive policies targeting free speech and the flow of information, especially on the Internet. Unfortunately, it is now clear such hopes were misplaced.
Especially when it comes to Facebook, the Aliyev administration remains intent on keeping a tight lid on social media. By creating a climate of fear and intimidation surrounding social media use, the government seeks to compel most users to engage in self-censorship. And for those who won’t censor themselves, the government can manipulate the judicial system to stifle public scrutiny of its actions.
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Vugar Gojayev is a fellow at Human Rights Watch. He writes in his personal capacity.