Cuba blocks access to Facebook and Telegram in response to protests

Protests started on Sunday over the country's handling of the pandemic.

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Pro-government youth carry a Cuban flag in front of the Ladies in White, a group made up of family members of imprisoned dissidents, during a protest march in Havana March 25, 2010.  REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Desmond Boylan / reuters

As protests continue in Cuba over the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the surrounding economic fallout, the Cuban government has moved to restrict access to social media and messaging platforms. According to NetBlocks, an organization that tracks internet access, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram have all been at least partially blocked on the Caribbean island since Monday. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, it appears the restrictions are still in place, with Reuters reporting that people in Havana don’t have access to mobile data at the moment. We’ve reached out to Facebook and Telegram for confirmation on the outages, and we’ll update this article when we hear back from the companies.

Mobile internet access is relatively new to Cuba. It was only in late 2018 that the country’s socialist government started rolling service out across the island. At the time, President Miguel Diaz-Canel, the politician protestors are demanding resign, said greater internet access would help Cubans “defend their revolution.” However, Cuba's approach to dissent is not new. We’ve seen governments in countries like Myanmar and Iran use similar strategies when they faced protests in the past.

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