Ethiopians return to unrestricted internet use after 5-month lockdown

After five months of blocking access, the Government of Ethiopia has lifted internet restrictions on major social media platforms. Services such as Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, TikTok and YouTube were all affected by the restrictions initially imposed on February 9th, 2023.

The measure was imposed in response to anti-government protests stemming from tensions within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC).

The restriction drew criticism from human rights groups. A month after the restrictions were imposed, Amnesty International condemned the decision, saying that blocking on selected social media platforms violates citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information.

According to data from the Centre for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), the five-month restrictions on internet access have caused Ethiopia an economic loss of over $140 million.Internet use has been repeatedly targeted in African countries. In June 2023, Senegal censored access to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube and Telegram in response to a widespread protest over the conviction of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.

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