The latest country to prohibit social media and the use of SMS messaging within its borders is the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ban affects a population of nearly 72 million citizens and comes in response to protests and ensuing violence following last month's contentious elections. Further, it adds Congo to a growing list of nations including Iran and Syria that have sought to disrupt those using the services as a tool for organizing mass demonstrations, the likes of which helped topple numerous regimes during the Arab Spring uprisings.
While the strategy may present a temporary hurdle for demonstrators, it is proving even more detrimental to the deaf community inside Congo — estimated to be around 1.4 million, according to Forbes. For them, SMS serves as both an invaluable means of general communication and also as an alert system, offering notifications of unsafe conditions and potential violence that otherwise may be difficult to detect. The fact that Congo officials are willing to take such a drastic step speaks volumes about their determination to stifle ideas of protest and revolt before they rise to unmanageable levels.