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Bangladesh blocks mobile messaging apps to thwart protests

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
January 19, 2015
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Countries are occasionally tempted to block mobile messaging apps when protests or riots flare up, and Bangladesh just gave in to that urge. The nation has blocked two popular services, Tango and Viber, on the grounds that anti-government protesters (some of whom have turned violent) are using these chat clients to coordinate their activities. Officials say the bans will last "for the time being," which suggests that locals shouldn't get their hopes up for a reprieve -- it might not let up unless the demonstrations come to an end.

Whether or not this is effective is another matter. It shouldn't be hard for these political opponents to find alternatives to Tango or Viber (WhatsApp comes to mind). Also, censorship of social apps has a tendency to galvanize resistance rather than break it down -- whether or not the protesters are backing a good cause, they may see messaging blackouts as proof that they're fighting injustices.

[Image credit: AP Photo/A.M. Ahad]

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