Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) condemns the disruption in access to social media in Pakistan

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) condemns the recent disruptions to access to social media platforms in Pakistan.  While it is not possible to ascertain if this was the cause of the disruption, the disruption in services experienced on December 17 occurred at a time when the Pakistan Tehreek i Insaf party was hosting a virtual rally. PPF urges authorities to ensure that social media services remain accessible in the country and that such attempts to disrupt access are not taken.

According to Dawn, on December 17, social media users experienced difficulty using social media platforms in various cities as well as slow internet services on Sunday night.

NetBlocks confirmed the disruption in access to social media, stating that there was a “nation-scale disruption.” They added that it had occurred just ahead of a virtual gathering by the PTI.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said that it was “looking into reports that internet services witnessed disruption in some parts of the country,” The News reported. In the statement that was issued a day after the disruption, the PTA said that internet services in the country were “normal.”

In response to the incident, the PTI tweeted from their official X account, stating:  “In what was an expected move, the illegitimate, fascist regime has slowed down internet speed and disrupted social media platforms all across Pakistan, prior to PTI’s historic Virtual Jalsa! This is proof of the fear of the unprecedented popularity of Imran Khan’s PTI!”

This is not the first time that Pakistan has experienced such a disruption in internet services of access to social media platforms.

In May 2023, in an unprecedented step, the PTA imposed a days-long block on mobile internet services and restricted access to social media websites. The blanket ban came into place on May 9, as protests broke out following the arrest of Imran Khan. On May 12, mobile internet services were restored. Despite this, access to social media remained restricted till May 15, when it was fully restored.

The closure of mobile internet services and restricted access to social media created challenges for the media to report and disseminate information, affected the citizens’ ability to stay informed, particularly during significant political activity and uncertainty, and had an economic impact. According to Reuters, point of sales transactions fell by 50 percent, a day after the mobile internet services were suspended.


Source: PPF

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