Libya blocks access to Facebook, Al Jazeera, others

Libya blocks access to Facebook, Al Jazeera, others

Summary: The Libyan government has cut access to Facebook. The rest of the Internet may soon follow, if it hasn't already.

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During the last few days, after seeing the power of the people succeed in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyan Internet activists created groups on Facebook to call for political and economic reforms in Libya. Libya's dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has now cut access to the social network (and other websites), according to the AFP:

Access to social networking site Facebook was cut in the Libyan capital on Friday and access to the Internet was intermittent amid deadly anti-regime protests, computer users reported. From early evening it was impossible to access the popular Facebook site, and connections to other sites were either very slow or not possible, they said. The state of Internet connections in the rest of the country was not known.

The BBC has confirmed the news, but details are still scarce:

Col Muammar Gaddafi's government in Libya has taken a series of measures, including blocking internet sites and shutting off electricity to try to quell rising unrest. Emerging reports suggest a mounting death toll from days of clashes between security forces and protesters.

Al Jazeera also mentions Facebook explicitly, but only says that specific opposition group pages have been blocked. At the same time, it notes that its website Aljazeera.net throws up an error when accessed from Libya.

In summary, it appears that Facebook and other websites are being blocked in at least some parts of the country. A quick check on Herdict shows that some users have reported that Facebook, Hotmail, and YouTube are inaccessible to them, while others are reporting they still have access.

Just yesterday, I reported on how the Gaddafi had warned against the use of Facebook. It looks like he decided the warning wasn't going to be enough. At that time, preliminary reports said 40 protesters had been injured. After 72 hours of protests, there's a death toll, and it's at 46. "Sources at al-Jala hospital in Benghazi today told Amnesty International that patients' most common injuries were bullet wounds to the head, chest and neck," according to Amnesty International.

Gaddafi has controlled Libya for more than 40 years, since 1969. This is longer than both Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (1987 to January 14, 2011) and Egyptian dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak (1981 to February 11, 2011).

Facebook has been credited for helping protesters organize in both Tunisia and Egypt. The social network was also blocked in both to discourage demonstrators and make it harder for them to rally together. Ironically, the two countries are now using the service to boost their image.

It is not clear if the whole Internet has been blocked yet, but it is definitely more than just Facebook. We can only hope that the pro-democracy protests in Libya receive as much media coverage as the ones in Tunisia and Egypt. The Libyan government needs to know that the world is watching.

Facebook declined to comment on this story.

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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13 comments
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  • man middle east is going up in flame

    Tunisia , Algeria , Yemen , Libya, Iran man not a good time to be a dictator or would be dictatoer ......
    Quebec-french
  • It's starting to look like 1989 all over again

    We'll have to wait and see if things turn out as well in North Africa and the Near East as they did in the former Communist states of central Europe and the Balkans (Yugoslavia excepted), but the domino effect appears to be in full swing.<br><br>Now... does anybody care to defend Libya for only cutting off social networking sites and Al Jazeera, instead of general Internet access? Anybody?

    Edit: At last report, it appears that Libyan access to the Internet is cut off. We'll see if it works any better for Gadhafi (Qaddafi?) than it did for Mubarak. Still no responses from intrepid defenders of the Libyan government (not even law-and-order types). I'm not really surprised.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: Libya blocks access to Facebook, Al Jazeera, others

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  • Libya blocks Facebook, Al Jereeza, and others.

    So the dictator discovered a beam locator on his Depends?
    BananaBoatWireless
  • RE: Libya blocks access to Facebook, Al Jazeera, others

    This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest
    occurring in Libya.

    As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the
    Libyan people. Their efforts are similar to what is happening in Yemen,
    Algeria and Bahrain as well as the most recent revolutions in Egypt and
    Tunisia.

    Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political
    correctness in the United States is the right to have one's voice heard.
    This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Libyan
    people should continue to defy Moammar Gadhafi's powerful
    security forces so that Libyan democracy can begin to thrive. It is
    unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most
    fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in the
    Middle East; something that happens all too often domestically as well.
    It is not the Libyan people that are attempting to seize power but rather
    it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent
    the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such
    underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the
    citizens of Libya? Why is the government in power utilizing such
    political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

    Moammar Gadhafi, you have had forty-two years to lead Libya and have
    failed them by your own choosing. The days of the despotic regime are
    finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue
    to sweep among the Arab nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among
    all citizens of Libya that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all
    over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may
    encounter during this crisis. To the people of Libya, the trumpet of
    freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve
    your sacred heritage, promote your children's future and obtain the
    blessings of liberty we all cherish. Moammar Gadhafi, let the people
    go!

    JOE BIALEK
    Cleveland, OH USA
    joebialek
  • wait...what???

    <i>"We can only hope that the pro-democracy protests in Libya receive as much media coverage as the ones in Tunisia and Egypt."</i><br><br>???<br><br>I hope you're suggesting sending nothing but male reporters/journalists? Or, have we already forgotten/ written off what happened to Lara Logan? Was she just collateral damage?<br><br>I don't think so. (nor do I think you're alluding to that fact, Emil)<br><br>With that said, as a bystander, after last week that area, society, culture lost <b>a whole lot</b> of credibility. Nevermind political reform...until they undergo some sort of social and religious reform? they deserve no pity, coverage, nor aid. <br><br>If the people who are assuming power are just as bad as the ones being overthrown (and by bad I mean those who protested to get what they wanted, they <b>got</b> what they wanted, then proceeded to engage in a brutal and sustained rape of a woman, while yelling "jew, jew, jew"...who ironically was of South African descent, and was <i>not</i> a jew), then i say F*ck them, too. They don't deserve it either.<br><br>You want sympathy? media coverage? facebook? electricity? water? start treating people who may be different than you the way you think your self-righteous as*es should be to be treated.<br><br>And it starts with their neighbor to the north. Start treating Isreal, it's people, <b><i>and women</b></i> with the same respect you expect yourself to be treated with...until then F*ck you, and your facebook, government, electricity, and water.
    UrNotPayingAttention
  • This Coudn't Happen In The USA

    The media would portray them as crazy tea partiers or traitors to the nation, many would die, and then all focus would be on the Kardashians or Justin Bieber again.
    Ron Burgundy
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