Internet and social media shutdowns affected more than 4 billion people across the world last year, with Asia accounting for nearly half of them, a recent report says.
The annual report by Surfshark recaps key developments in global internet censorship, namely, the legal control, suppression, or manipulation of what can and cannot be watched, seen, downloaded, or published on the world wide web.
The “most crippling internet censorship events of 2022” took place in Russia, India, Iran and the Jammu and Kashmir region, says the Netherlands-based internet censorship tracker.
Of the multiple high-profile internet censorship events in 2022, these countries gained international media coverage for frequent internet and social media disruptions.
The highest internet disruptions in the world were recorded in India’s northern most state of Jammu and Kashmir. The disputed territory, bordering Pakistan, is considered as a separate region in the report.
The VPN provider says Jammu and Kashmir has been “facing unprecedented internet restrictions since 2019”, where all restrictions “were related to political turmoil.”
TikTok has been banned in India since June 2020.
Russia banned key social platforms in the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine. On February 26, 2022, to curb local anti-war protests, Twitter was restricted in Russia, followed by Facebook and Instagram. The country has also blocked access to major international news sites.
The death of university student Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police sparked mass outrage in the Kurdistan province and the rest of the country in September 2022. The outcry resulted in a near-total disruption to internet services and mass-scale disruptions to mobile networks. Moreover, Instagram and Whatsapp are now nationally restricted.
In other parts of the world, WhatsApp Calling remains blocked in Oman.
Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were banned in 2009 and are still prohibited in China.
In the same year, YouTube was blocked in Turkmenistan by its only ISP, and the ban has been in place ever since.
19 countries censored the internet in 2022. This is in addition to 13 countries that imposed long-term restrictions before 2022.
78 cases of internet restrictions took place in 2022.
The average duration of an internet connection disruption was 33 hours while social media censorship lasted for an average of 114 days.
National protests and political turmoil were the main catalyst for internet censorship.
Facebook is the social platform authoritarian governments hate the most.
Burkina Faso, Russia, and Azerbaijan had the longest-running internet disruptions in 2022, the report finds.
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