Social media and messaging apps restored in Sri Lanka

Access to social media and messaging apps has been restored in Sri Lanka as of 5:30 a.m UTC Tuesday, 30 April, on the ninth day after the services were blocked as a security measure following a series of deadly terror attacks.

Facebook, YouTube and other blocked services now all accessible with Sri Lanka’s leading internet providers including Dialog Axiata and Sri Lanka Telecom, Mobitel and others according to NetBlocks network measurement data.

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, as well as VPN services used to circumvent censorship, were restricted after the bombings, which targeted churches and hotels.

Access has now fully returned for most internet subscribers, following two hours of gradual restoration starting 5:00 a.m UTC. Users of Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel were respectively first to regain access.

The new NetBlocks findings are based on 1000 network measurements, each consisting of latency and reachability status as observed from 60 vantage points across Sri Lanka between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. collected with the assistance of volunteers across the country.

Access to social media and messaging apps is almost completely restored across Sri Lanka as of 7:00 a.m, following a gradual return that took two hours to complete after the blockade was first lifted in the morning

During the social media blockade, concerns were raised over impact to citizens’s ability to communicate and impart information in the midst of the crisis. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Sri Lankan internet users and the families of international visitors complained of difficulty checking up on the wellbeing of friends and family.

The incident is the second recorded instance of social media blocking in Sri Lanka, which previously blocked social media for just over one week after violence targeting minorities broke out in March 2018.


Methodology

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.


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