Social media restricted in Azerbaijan amid clashes with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh

Network data from the Internet Observatory confirm widespread social media restrictions across Azerbaijan following deadly clashes with Armenia on Sunday 27 September 2020 over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Real-time NetBlocks metrics show that social media and communications platforms Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and Twitter, Zoom, Skype and Messenger servers are unavailable at the time of writing.

The restrictions have come into place as a security measure declared by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Technology to “prevent large-scale provocations from Armenia” as Azerbaijan declares marshal law. Both countries have mobilized armed forces.

Internet performance metrics from 15 observation points confirm that listed online platform backend and frontend servers are restricted on fixed and cellular lines on Baktelekom (AS28787), Azercell (AS31721) and Bakcell (AS197830), corroborating user reports. Some mobile apps remain partially available.

September 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh clashes in the digital sphere

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in a bitter standoff marked with outbreaks of conflict since war broke out in the 1990s. The dispute has increasingly played out in the digital space through the use of state-sponsored and organic influence campaigns. These are amplified by a global diaspora and shaped by geopolitics that emerged following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Nagorno-Karabakh was split from Azerbaijan.


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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