Zimbabwe restricting internet access during protests

Zimbabwe’s government has moved to block citizens’ access to social media — and, in some instances, access to the Internet altogether — as violent protests spread across the troubled Southern African nation

The protests erupted after the Zimbabwean government hiked fuel prices to the highest in the world amid a continuing economic crunch and soaring prices.

Zimbabwean technology news website TechZim reported on Tuesday that several Internet service providers received a government directive on Monday evening to block access to some social media services.

It said many users are unable to access Facebook and the popular Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp. Twitter and Instagram have reportedly also been affected.

  • READ MORE: Zimbabwean minister says telecom firms overcharge customers

According to a report from TechZim, two of the main internet providers, Econet and TelOne, shut down access completely, while other ISPs including NetOne and ZOL restricted social networking services such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.

The African News Agency (ANA) writes that more than 20 human rights organisations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Foundation, Internet Sans Frontieres, Reporters without Borders and the Right2Know Campaign, have written to the government to condemn the internet blackout. Their letter stated: ‘Shutdowns disrupt the free flow of information and create a cover of darkness that shields human rights abuses from public scrutiny.’

Reports from Zimbabwe say that at least five people have been killed during the protests, including one police officer.

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