Ethiopia blocks social media

July 19, 2016

Ethiopia has put a block on social networking sites in an attempt to prevent university entrance exams from being leaked a second time.

 

Last month a national scandal erupted when questions for the top examination were posted on social networks leading to the ultimate cancellation of the entire exam.

 

The block, which has been in place since Saturday, will continue until Wednesday according to government spokesperson Getachew Reda, who told the AFP that, “This is a temporary measure until Wednesday as the social networks serve as a distraction to the students.”

 

At the moment the most popular social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber, are inaccessible throughout Ethiopia. Aside from these sites the internet is still functioning normally.

 

Despite the blockade, internet users have found ways to bypass the ban by using virtual network profiles (VPN), with many criticising the move by the government.

 

Daniel Berhane, a blogger and the creator of the influential website “Horn Affairs” told AFP that “This is a dangerous precedent. There is no transparency about who took the decision and for how long. This time it is for a few days, but next time it might be for a month.”

 

He added that he believed that this was an attempt by the government to test new internet filtering tools and the reaction of the public.

 

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution last week considering the restrictions of internet access as a violation of human rights. This was a few days after the election of Ethiopia as a non-permanent member of the UN security Council for a two year term.

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