Burma’s Military Junta Blocks Access To Facebook, Instagram And WhatsApp | WABNEWS

Internet providers in Burma, including state-run MPT, blocked access to Facebook services in the country on Thursday, days after military leaders seized power in a coup. A letter posted online by the Ministry of Communications and Information overnight stated that Facebook would be blocked until February 7 for the sake of “stability.” Some users in Burma reported that they were unable to access various Facebook services. Network monitoring group NetBlocks confirmed that the state telecommunications company MPT, which it says has 23 million users, had blocked Facebook, as well as its Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp services. Analysts: Sanctions would push Burma into China’s open arms According to observers, the more sanctions the West imposes on Burma, the closer the military junta will get to the communist government. The commercial ties between the two countries are already important. Norwegian company Telenor Asa said it had just blocked Facebook to comply with the directive. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone acknowledged the outage. “We urge the authorities to restore connectivity so that people in Burma can communicate with their families and friends and access important information,” he said. Half of the affected population Half of Burma’s 53 million people use Facebook, which for many is synonymous with the internet. “Currently, people who are affecting the stability of the country … are spreading false news and misinformation and causing misunderstandings among people through the use of Facebook,” the ministry letter said. Telenor expressed deep concern about the directive, which it said had been received by all mobile phone operators and Internet service providers on Wednesday. Burmese public figures speak to VOA about military coup In the hours after the military seized control of the government and arrested senior civilian officials, some prominent Burmese legislators and public figures spoke to the VOA about the events. The company reported in a statement that it had sent users a message saying that Facebook’s websites cannot be used due to a government order. “Although the directive has a legal basis in Burmese law, Telenor does not believe that the request is based on necessity and proportionality, in accordance with international human rights law,” it said. On Tuesday, the military warned against posting what it said were rumors on social media that could incite unrest and cause instability. UN human rights researchers have previously said that hate speech on Facebook had played a key role in fueling violence in Burma. The company has said it was too slow to act to prevent disinformation and hatred in the country. This week, Facebook said it was treating the situation in Burma as an emergency and taking temporary steps to protect against harm such as removing content praising or supporting the coup, according to a spokeswoman.

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