We’ve seen random attempts by governments to block access to social media sites or even the internet as a whole, but the Indian state of Kashmir has ordered 22 social networks to be blocked for at least a month. Journalist Nazir Masoodi, who is in Kashmir, tweeted out screen shots of the government order, noting “This could be my last tweet.”
This could be my last tweet.Govt bans twitter, whataapp, Facebook and all other social networking sites in Kashmir pic.twitter.com/IF6YJiHAf8
— Nazir Masoodi (@nazir_masoodi) April 26, 2017
We’ve taken those images and turned them into a PDF if you’d prefer to view them that way. But you can see that basically every big name social network is listed: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Skype, Snapchat, Reddit, YouTube (apparently they just want YouTube uploads blocked, but you can visit the site) and more. MySpace is still available.
As the NY Times points out, this pointless and heavy handed approach is apparently a terrible response to protests:
The move illuminated a government increasingly vexed by civilian protests, by a newly budding homegrown militancy in south Kashmir and by a series of video clips, distributed on social media, depicting confrontations between civilians and Indian security forces.
The order, signed by the principal secretary in the state’s Home Department, contended that social media was being used by “anti-national and subversive elements” for “vitiating peace and tranquillity” in the state.
As always, when governments resort to out-and-out censorship, it’s difficult to see how this will do any good at all. There are always alternative ways to communicate and share information, and these kinds of actions tend to galvanize those being censored into being even more aggressive in sharing such info. Indeed, the NY Times quotes protesting students pointing out how pointless such a ban really is:
“The government has to understand that there is a sentiment which forces students to come out on the streets: it is not the internet, it is not Facebook or any other social media platform,” said Aqib Shah, a 19-year-old student at Amar Singh College, who has been participating in protests in Srinagar for the last several days. “It is because of the overwhelming presence of forces that are deployed here.”
Instead of trying to shut people up on the internet, maybe it would be a better idea to listen to them.