Social media outage and disruptions in Venezuela amid incident in Caracas

The NetBlocks internet observatory has collected technical evidence of restricted access to Twitter, Instagram in Venezuela as of 21 January 2019, amid reports of a military command dispute in Caracas.

The restrictions were observed the largest telecommunications provider CANTV but may be present with other providers, pending further testing. YouTube also appears to be partially affected, although social platforms such as Facebook remain available at time of writing.

The cause of the outage remains unclear but is technically consistent with controls used to filter internet content in the country. User reports are also consistent with NetBlocks’ measurements, with many stating that they had to resort to VPN connections to get online.

on the 12th of January NetBlocks reported the blocking in Venezuela of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, amid rising tensions and an ‘edit war’ around the contested presidency.

In that incident, Venezuelan authorities denied that filtering was taking place, however the findings have since been systematically validated by multiple independent technical experts.

Network measurements from Venezuela, 21 January 2019, show a high failure rate for Twitter and Instagram, as well as some limitation to YouTube

It could not be ascertained at the time of writing whether an official blocking order has been issued or whether the restriction is intended to be temporary or permanent.

NetBlocks recommends that authorities seek to identify the source of the filtering as a matter of urgency.


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.


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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