Local media in Mali are reporting that social media networks, Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in the country following violent protests on Wednesday. The protest led to the death of two people while several others sustained injuries in clashes with police.
The protests were ignited because of the arrest of a popular radio presenter, Mohammed Youssouf Bathily, who is seen as a harsh critic of the government.
Local news portal Maliweb.net confirmed that the capital, Bamako, had been without access to Facebook for hours spanning Wednesday night till Thursday morning.
Ils ont sérieusement bloqué Facebook au Mali depuis hier????😂— Abdoul (@Doul92) August 18, 2016
Despite the blackout, a few people are able to connect using rolling browsers on random and non-local Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
Facebook and Twitter both blocked in #Mali at the moment. Using a proxy site to write this. Another move in the wrong direction by gov.— Phil Paɔlεtta (@philinthe_) August 17, 2016
Mali’s main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are Malitel and Orange, there has been no communication from their end with respect to the situation.
Ordinary Malians however believe that the blackout is the result of Wednesday’s events. Local media further reported that it was through social media that the presenter urged his listeners to throng the court where his case was to be heard.
Mohammed Youssouf Bathily was arrested after his opinion piece pointed out that jihadists have started having an upper hand as they battle with Malian armed forces. He also suggested that president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was unfit to lead the army to victory.
The suspension of social networks in Africa has become the norm in some countries including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Governments employ these blackouts differently but largely as a means to keep citizens and other activists in check.