Not long after it blocked Facebook, Myanmar has now ordered mobile networks and internet service providers to block Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram in the country as well. The southeast Asian country’s military seized power in a coup earlier this week, detaining its civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with other government officials.
Facebook users had reportedly been using the social media platform to protest the coup, sharing photos of themselves giving the three-finger salute that’s become associated with resistance in the area.
“All mobile operators, international gateways and internet service providers in Myanmar received a directive on 5 February 2021 from the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) to, until further notice, block the social media platforms Twitter and Instagram,” Norwegian telecom company Telenor said in a statement late Friday. The company provides mobile services in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Information issued an ominous statement on Tuesday, a day after the military seized power, instructing people not to spread rumors on social media, CNN reported. “Some media and public are spreading rumors on social media conducting gatherings to incite rowdiness and issuing statements which can cause unrest. We would like to urge the public not to carry out these acts and would like to notify the public to cooperate with the government in accordance with the existing laws,” the statement read.
Rafael Frankel, Facebook’s director of public policy, APAC emerging countries, said in a statement to The Verge that the company was “extremely concerned” by the shutdown orders, and urged authorities to unblock access immediately. “At this critical time, the people of Myanmar need access to important information and to be able to communicate with their loved ones,” Frankel said.
A Twitter spokesperson echoed that concern, saying in an email to The Verge that the order “undermines the public conversation and the rights of people to make their voices heard. The Open Internet is increasingly under threat around the world. We will continue to advocate to end destructive government-led shutdowns.”
Update February 6th, 11:13AM ET: Adds statements from Facebook and Twitter