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.
Confirmed: Social media and messaging platforms restricted in #Cuba from Monday on state-run internet provider ETECSA; real-time network data corroborate reports of internet disruptions amid widening anti-government protests; incident ongoing 📵#CubaSOS— NetBlocks (@netblocks) July 12, 2021
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.