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.
Confirmed: Social media restricted in #Indonesia following a government blocking order amid election unrest; network data show blocking of Facebook and Instagram backend servers, as well as WhatsApp and Telegram messaging services #KeepItOn 📉https://t.co/HeqF4s0vuT pic.twitter.com/2rgliCkav1
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 22, 2019
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.
Update: Social media restrictions in #Indonesia now extend to most major internet service providers as authorities attempt to quell election unrest; network data shows targeting of CDN servers used to share images and videos #KeepItOn 📉https://t.co/HeqF4s0vuT pic.twitter.com/RaVDjjsMFi— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 22, 2019
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 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 analytics measurements. 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 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 a civil society group working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives for an open and inclusive digital future for all.