Social media restricted in Ethiopia, NetBlocks says


Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been restricted in Ethiopia, Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said. — Reuters

NAIROBI: Social media platforms Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been restricted in Ethiopia, Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said on May 17.

“Network data show Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram restricted in #Ethiopia,” NetBlocks said in a tweet. The London-based watchdog’s director Alp Toker told Reuters that Netblocks observed the restrictions at six locations across Ethiopia.

The head of Ethiopia’s Information Network Service Agency, Shumete Gizaw, did not immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment on Monday morning. State-run telecommunications monopoly Ethio Telecom chief executive Frehiwot Tamiru also did not immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

Platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Reddit remain available, Toker said in a email. Users with access to VPN services are able to work around the restrictions, he added.

Ethiopia’s electoral board said on Saturday that it was postponing June 5 parliamentary elections to an unspecified date due to logistical challenges, the second time the vote has been delayed after the initial August 2020 date was scrapped because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Access to the Internet in Ethiopia has been restricted in the past during periods of political unrest, including in the northern region of Tigray last year after the military launched an offensive after regional forces attacked its bases there.

After an Internet blackout in 2019, NetBlocks estimated that it had cost the country’s economy US$17mil (RM70.21mil). – Reuters

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