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Sri Lanka bans social media platforms

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The Sri Lankan government banned social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on Sunday after declaring a nationwide state of emergency and imposing a 36-hour curfew ahead of a planned anti-government rally over the island nation’s worst economic crisis.

The move is intended to prevent crowds from gathering in Colombo to protest the government’s failure to provide relief to the public, who are suffering from food, essentials, fuel, and medicine shortages as a result of hours-long power outages, according to the Colombo Page newspaper.

NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cybersecurity and Internet governance, confirmed the restriction of multiple social media platforms in Sri Lanka after midnight on Sunday, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, and YouTube.

Metrics corroborate user reports of service outages across the country, demonstrating that the measure covers all of Sri Lanka’s major network operators, including Dialog, Sri Lanka Telecom, Mobitel, and Hutch, according to the report.

According to the report, social media and messaging platforms that have been fully or partially impacted include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TokTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger.

Previously, NetBlocks observed a significant drop in connectivity levels on internet provider Dialog beginning on March 29, coinciding with the start of the protests.

On Sunday, the island nation braced for nationwide protests against the government’s poor handling of the ongoing economic crisis, in which people are currently subjected to long periods of power outage and a scarcity of essentials.

Citizens would be unable to protest if a curfew was imposed.

Late Friday night, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a special gazette notification declaring a public emergency in Sri Lanka, effective April 1.

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