Social media restricted in Sri Lanka as emergency declared amid protests

NetBlocks metrics confirm the restriction of multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber and YouTube in Sri Lanka after midnight on Sunday April 3, 2022 local time. The incident comes as the government declares a state of emergency and imposes curfews to counter widespread protests over the economic crisis.

Real-time network data collected from over 100 vantage points across Sri Lanka shows the restrictions coming into effect for multiple providers from midnight. The readings confirm user reports of service unavailability across the country and show that all of Sri Lanka’s major network operators, including Dialog, Sri Lanka Telecom, Mobitel and Hutch, are covered by the measure. Social media and messaging platforms fully or partially affected include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Facebook Messenger.

Sri Lanka has had nationwide restrictions on social media in troubled times in the past. The list of restricted platforms in this case appears to be broadly consistent with the list used in previous government-imposed national social media bans.

Previously, NetBlocks observed a significant drop in connectivity levels at ISP Dialog from March 29, coinciding with the start of the protests:

The platforms can be accessed indirectly via VPN services that can bypass government-imposed internet restrictions. The mobile app versions of some services remained accessible on certain devices due to the partial implementation of the ban at the time of writing.

NetBlocks advises against using social media platform restrictions to quell protests as they have a disproportionate impact on fundamental rights including freedom of expression and assembly.

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methodology

Internet performance and the accessibility of the service are determined via NetBlock’s web probe analyzes to protect privacy. Each measurement consists of latency round-trip time, outage type and autonomous system number, aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are listed as viewpoint pairs. The root cause of a service outage can be additionally confirmed by traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.

NetBlocks diffscans, which map a country’s IP address space in real-time, show internet connection levels and corresponding outages. Deliberate internet outages can have a specific network pattern that is used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution what follows recognition and classification Stages.


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