Zambia shuts down internet, blocks WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on election day

Zambia shuts down internet, blocks WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on election day

Zambia shuts down internet, blocks WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on election day

Zambia on Thursday shut down the internet and blocked access to social media platforms after the country’s elections. Internet providers in the country have blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

Previously, citizens in the country had complained that there was a service outage on WhatsApp. The internet shutdown was confirmed by NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that oversees cybersecurity and governance of the internet. netblocks wrote,

Measurements show that WhatsApp’s frontend and backend servers will initially be unavailable from Thursday afternoon, followed by the other platforms about an hour later. The restrictions are likely to restrict the free flow of information online, posing a challenge to election transparency when polls are conducted.

Within hours, however, citizens reported that other social media platforms had also gone down. The outage on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger was reconfirmed by NetBlocks.

Network data from NetBlocks confirms that social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and messaging apps Messenger and WhatsApp were restricted on multiple internet service providers in Zambia on Thursday, August 21, 2021 during presidential and parliamentary elections. Statistics confirm widespread user reports of loss of access to the services.

Zambia’s government appears to have heeded its threat to shut down the internet on election day. In March, Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu signed the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Act on March 23, 2021. The law is aimed at “misuse of cyberspace”. Opposition candidate and Lungu’s rival, Hakainde Hichelima, pledged to give priority to repealing the law if elected.


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