Social media partially unblocked in Iraq after 50 days

Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and messaging apps have been restored for many users across Iraq on 21 November 2019. The services were blocked fifty days ago by most internet providers in south Iraq as protests swept the country.

At the time of writing, network data show that access is restored by leading fixed-line/wifi internet provider Earthlink. There are also signs of recovery with mobile operator Zain, however overall connection quality and performance remain poor across most of the country, particularly with cellular networks.

Work is ongoing to identify other restrictions that remain in place across multiple service providers.

What happened?

Iraq blocked social media platforms and restricted messaging apps on 2 October 2019. The restrictions were shortly followed by a near-total internet shutdown that cut off Iraq as protests escalated and evidence of targeted killings of protesters emerged.

The near-total shutdowns were implemented  through much of October, and again through early November. Even at times internet access returned, social platforms remained blocked and overall service was highly slowed for most users:




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 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.

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