Internet monitoring service Netblocks on Sunday reported a widespread disruption in social media platforms across Pakistan, including X, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The disruption, affecting the nation at large, occurred hours before Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was about to launch its virtual election fundraising telethon, which is scheduled to begin at 9pm.
“Live metrics show a nation-scale disruption to social media platforms across #Pakistan, including X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; the incident comes as persecuted former PM Imran Khan's party, PTI, launches its election fundraising telethon,” Netblocks said in a post shared on X.
⚠️ Confirmed: Live metrics show a nation-scale disruption to social media platforms across #Pakistan, including X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; the incident comes as persecuted former PM Imran Khan's party, PTI, launches its election fundraising telethon pic.twitter.com/QIBGcxGty3— NetBlocks (@netblocks) January 7, 2024
Users in major cities such as Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad began experiencing difficulties accessing social media platforms shortly after 6 pm. Additionally, complaints regarding sluggish internet services surfaced among the affected users.
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Downdetector also reported that all major social media platforms were disrupted across Pakistan.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is yet to provide an official statement on the cause of the disruption.
Internet shut down completely to stop the fundraiser ! #PTIFundraisingTelethon pic.twitter.com/2ei0NM5GTY— Sayed Z Bukhari (@sayedzbukhari) January 7, 2024
PTI, on its official X handle, termed the development shameful, demanding that the Caretaker IT Minister should resign.
Absolutely shameful! Caretaker IT Minister should resign for this continuing damage to Pakistanis https://t.co/W9pyXzRr6A— PTI (@PTIofficial) January 7, 2024
This is not the first time that social media and internet services have been disrupted in the country. On December 17, a similar blockage was reported before a PTI virtual rally.
It is pertinent to mention that the disruption of the internet and social media services incurred billions of rupees worth of losses to Pakistan’s telecom sector.
The suspension affected e-commerce, online services, home delivery and ride-hailing apps to a great extent.
The decision to shut down internet and social media services in past has been criticised by many human rights activists and journalists, who claimed that it was a violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information.
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