The government of Zimbabwe has ordered ISPs to shut off access to the internet in an effort to restrict social media usage during a three-day national protest over fuel price rises and the state of the country’s economy. According to a report from TechZim, two of the main internet providers, Econet and TelOne, shut down access completely, while other ISPs including NetOne and ZOL restricted social networking services such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
The African News Agency (ANA) writes that more than 20 human rights organisations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Foundation, Internet Sans Frontieres, Reporters without Borders and the Right2Know Campaign, have written to the government to condemn the internet blackout. Their letter stated: ‘Shutdowns disrupt the free flow of information and create a cover of darkness that shields human rights abuses from public scrutiny.’
Reports from Zimbabwe say that at least five people have been killed during the protests, including one police officer.