Myanmar blocks Facebook, WhatsApp & Instagram as anti-military protests grow

Blocked over claims of fake news and misinformation spreading on the platform.

Julia Yeo | February 04, 2021, 05:36 PM

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The Myanmar government has ordered internet service providers in the country to temporarily block access to Facebook and its services amid burgeoning protests against the military after it launched a coup on Feb. 1, seizing power from de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party.

Myanmar government blocks Facebook services

In a letter, Myanmar's Ministry of Transport and Communications instructed all telecommunications companies in the country to make Facebook's services unavailable until Feb. 7 to maintain "stability, reported Bloomberg.

"Currently the people who are troubling the country's stability... are spreading fake news and misinformation and causing misunderstanding among people by using Facebook," the letter said, according to Nikkei Asia.

State-owned telco MPT has blocked Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, while Telenor Asa, a Norwegian telco, said that it has complied with the directive, but "does not believe that the request is based on necessity and proportionality", expressing its concerns over its impact on human rights.

Facebook aware of service disruption in Myanmar

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is aware that its services is "currently disrupted for some people".

A spokesperson from Facebook urged Myanmar authorities in a statement to restore connectivity so that people in Myanmar could communicate with their friends and families, and access important information.

Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms in Myanmar, reported Bloomberg.

Myanmar people protest against coup

Civilians in Myanmar have taken to the streets to protest the military coup and the arrest of Suu Kyi, a beloved political icon in the country.

An anti-coup Facebook page named "Civil Disobedience Movement" gained nearly 200,000 followers in two days.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, residents banged pots and honked cars in a bid to protest the coup.

Beating tin or metal buckets is said to be a Myanmar tradition to "drive away evil or bad karma".

On Feb. 4 morning, protesters waved banners and chanted anti-coup slogans in front of a university in Mandalay, calling for the release of the civilian leaders as well, reported Nikkei.

At least three arrests in Mandalay were made later in the day, after the protest, reported Reuters.

Top image via Unsplash, Getty