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Bangladesh blocks Facebook and chat apps to stop 'crimes'

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 23, 2015
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To call things tense in Bangladesh would be an understatement: the country recently executed two high-profile leaders for decades-old war crimes, and ISIS (aka Daesh) claims to have killed an Italian priest. However, its government may have gone overboard in attempting to silence this unrest. The country's officials have blocked Facebook and multiple chat apps (including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber) on the grounds that they're being used to "carry out crimes." Just what those activities are isn't clear, but Bangladesh silenced messaging apps earlier this year to discourage protests. It wouldn't be surprising if officials are once again treating online censorship as a national security tool -- cut the internet chatter and the protesters (both for and against executions) potentially go away.

It might not be very effective. On-the-ground reports suggest that internet providers aren't consistent in how they implement the order, with some social services remaining online depending on your ISP of choice. To top it off, it's relatively easy to dodge the ban -- this is more likely to hurt Bangladeshis content to stay at home than motivated activists. However well this blocking works, it's clear that Bangladesh has taken some cues from Turkey's knee-jerk approach to quashing political dissent.

[Image credit: AP Photo]

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