Indonesia blocks social media as election protests escalate

WhatsApp and Facebook backend servers have been partially blocked in Indonesia as of Wednesday 22 May 2019, according to real-time network measurement data from the NetBlocks internet observatory.

NetBlocks data show that internet providers Telkom and XL Axiata Tbk (formerly PT Excelcomindo Pratama Tbk) have implemented the restrictions, which is ongoing at time of writing. The blocks have also been confirmed with other operators (see update below). The disruptions affecting ordinary operation of the online platforms come after authorities reportedly ordered a social media blackout following the outbreak of violence amid an escalation of election protests.

Update: Study shows mechanism of Twitter image and video upload filtering in Indonesia

Primary websites belonging to some of the services remain reachable according network data, although certain backend services are restricted preventing ordinary operation of the websites and mobile apps. Facebook backend servers used by Facebook Messenger and Instagram also appear among those affected as well as those used by WhatsApp, limiting image and video sharing features. Telegram includes censorship circumvention measures, although users have already reported difficultly with the messaging app.

The government order indicates that the bans may be implemented regionally, although variations were not immediately evident from network data.

Initial findings were drawn from a set of 1000 NetBlocks internet performance measurements collected from 10 vantage points across Indonesia in addition to a larger global control data set, providing a representative view of network performance and service reachability via multiple internet service providers.

Each NetBlocks web probe measurement consists of latency round trip, outage type and autonomous system identity aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and performance in a given country.


This report follows the NetBlocks Election Pathfinder Rapid Response methodology which defines a set of core principles, workflows and benchmarks for network measurement and evaluation during elections and referenda.

Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe privacy-preserving analytics. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.

NetBlocks is an internet monitor working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives to deliver a fair and inclusive digital future for all.

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