Social Media Shutdown As Liberians Protest Against Their Government

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Protests over inflation and corruption have led to the Liberian government blocking certain social media and news sites to stop the movement’s online momentum.

Some websites and apps that have been inaccessible to Liberians include WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Google’s gmail service and The Associated Press’s website, according to internet monitoring platform NetBlocks.

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More than 5,000 people gathered in the streets of the country’s capital Monrovia on Jun. 7 to voice their concerns about President George Weah’s government, TheGuardian reported.

A former international soccer player, Weahhas been unable to tackle corruption and rising inflation — the major catalysts of the protests.

Social media shut down after protests

The protests were organized using social media and messaging apps by a group called the Council of Patriots.

They describe themselves as a conglomeration of citizens, civil society activists, youth workers, and major political parties, Koam reports.

social media
Liberia President George Weah. Photo – Stephane Mahe – Pool Photo via AP

Most journalists and some citizens are using virtual private networks to mask their IP address and avoid being blocked, said Bai Sama G. Best, managing director of Liberia’s Daily Observer newspaper, in a CNNinterview.

Weah has been president of Liberia for 18 months after taking over from Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Sirleaf’s election represented the country’s first democratic transfer of power since 1944, according to CNN.

Major businesses and schools in Monrovia and surrounding areas were closed on the day of the protests in the wake of what The Observer described as the most publicized planned protest by Council of Patriots.

Internet blackouts are not new to Africa. Governments in Cameroon and Gabon have blocked the internet for political purposes in the past.