ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi federal government has blocked social media networks in the country, including the Kurdistan Region, as protests rage on in southern provinces over the lack of public services.
Country-wide demonstrations over high unemployment and the poor quality of government-supplied services continue in many parts of central and southern Iraq, with the oil-rich province of Basra leading the protests over the past week.
The Iraqi federal government blocked access to major social media networks amid growing unrest in the country as demonstrations turned violent in several provinces. Some reported complete internet service outages in certain areas.
The social media network blackout also included the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in the north of the country.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Transport stated the social media block had been imposed in coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Transport.
“Internet services in the Kurdistan Region have not been shut down. The temporary block is only targeting social media networks,” Omed Mohammed, a spokesperson for the KRG Ministry of Transport, told Kurdistan 24 Saturday evening.
He also mentioned the block would remain in effect indefinitely.
The Kurdish official added they had received information that internet service cables for the Kurdistan Region had been sabotaged in an attack in the Daquq and Khrumatu areas of southern Kirkuk Province.
The people of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq use various social media networks to connect and communicate with each other and others abroad. The most common are Facebook, Instagram, Viber, and Whatsapp but in these times, some resort to using less monitored ones such as Telegram and IMO.
The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is also allowing some to bypass the block.
Editing by Nadia Riva