Egypt blocks social media websites in attempted clampdown on unrest

Facebook, Google, Hotmail and Twitter among services blocked by government, report users

Charles Arthur, technology editor
Guardian UK
26th January 2011

Internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook were cut off within Egypt today as the government of President Hosni Mubarak tried to prevent social media from being used to foment unrest.

Many sites registered in Egypt could not be reached from outside, according to, a website where users report access problems.

Twitter, YouTube, Hotmail, Google, Chinese search engine Baidu and a “proxy service” – which would allow users to evade obvious restrictions – appeared to be blocked from inside the country, according to reports on the site.

Twitter said blocking was intermittent and some users were able to tweet while Bambuser, a Swedish site for streaming video from mobile phones, said it had been blocked after being used by some protesters this week.

About 24%, or 19.2 million, of Egypt’s 80 million population have internet access, usually through internet cafes, mobile internet or “public information technology clubs”. About 1m have home access via computer.

Far more people – about 26 million – have mobile phones, so protests could be organised via text message. Vodafone, one of the two largest mobile phone operators there, said it was not responsible for blocking Twitter. “It’s a problem all over Egypt and we are waiting for a solution.”

Other reports say the government has disabled mobile phone towers and the telephone service, and that all communications have been disrupted. This could not be confirmed.

The government could order internet service providers to filter out services or block sites, but usually cracks down on writers and bloggers. In 2009 the Committee to Protect Journalists listed Egypt as one of the 10 worst countries for bloggers because of the tendency to arrest critics.

The government might have ordered the military to commandeer communications centres, leading to the blocking.

But any piecemeal attempt to identify sites being used to organise protests or beam video to the outside world will inevitably lead to a cat and mouse game between the authorities and protesters, who will be able to stay one step ahead.

Meanwhile, Egyptian government websites were targeted in return by Anonymous, the group of hackers who take on opponents they see as unpopular or oppressive. Reports suggested that a number of official sites had been hacked or put offline.

  1. #1 by dagen on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 1:23 pm

    Jib is tuning in … and learning fast.

    When armed with tower-power, he ought to do better than the egyptians.

    But heck. Tower is not build yet. Maybe a virtual presence could be sufficient. So quick jib get some one to do a photo-realistic 3D sketch-up of your mojo, the tower, and plant it in position in google earth.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 1:43 pm

    Mubarak has been President since 1981. 3 more years and he would have broken Suharto’s record.

    USD 40 billion is much, much less than the RM888 billion lost by Malaysia

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 1:52 pm

    ///Other reports say the government has disabled mobile phone towers and the telephone service, and that all communications have been disrupted. This could not be confirmed.///

    Would UMNO/BN block social media websites, disable mobile phone towers and the telephone service, and disrupt all communications if PR is voted into power in GE13?

  4. #4 by Godfather on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 2:04 pm

    They can block, they can intimidate, they can outlaw the websites, but they will not succeed. We are living in a flat, borderless world and such actions make the people even angrier and more determined to spread the truth.

    BN knows the score on this one.

  5. #5 by dagen on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 2:28 pm

    Godfather, be very careful. They have the mother of all weapons. The rambutans. Umno can unload tens of thousands of tonnes of rambutans on the streets and in the fields up and down the country – just to stop or at least to slow down our march.

    I am so scared … Help me some one. Help.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 2:54 pm


    You may be right, but it is of course shameful to note that those who “help” the aggressors are non-Malays such as MCA and MIC. Who harvests the rambutans and distributes them up and down the country ? People like cintanegara have not developed any skills in harvesting or in logistics after 30+ years of NEP. They just sit around and watch the pendatangs do all the work for them.

    People like KTK and CSL are the real impediments to true democracy. You can bet your bottom ringgit that they will leap to the defence of UMNO if UMNO chooses to clamp down on internet freedom.

  7. #7 by undertaker888 on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 4:08 pm

    great satan has been endorsing these tyrants for decades if they all toe the line. i guessed it is the same here. they can be corrupt, repressive as long as they show a bit of democracy and toe the line, great satan will turn the other eye.Swalame

  8. #8 by undertaker888 on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 4:32 pm

    //Makkal Sakti will always support Barisan Nasional”//

    well, what can i say…they have mutated to makkal suck-deep or makkal sak-dik. when will people ever learn. a whiff on a few millions, these beggars will turn faster than i can say “one”…

  9. #9 by sotong on Friday, 28 January 2011 - 5:23 pm

    The majority of poor and marginalized will not put up with these dictator/totalitarian governments for long…..ordinary people want basic freedom, fairness and human rights.

    Unless there is an urgent political reform, there will be big problems in the Middle East and African countries.

  10. #10 by tak tahan on Saturday, 29 January 2011 - 11:20 pm

    Ar dagen,are you really suggesting that we should considered to give him one more chance ar?.. to break the most ultimate heavyweight record,aren’t you?.Our record is already bad le yet some more you encourage them to condone Mubarak’s low performance than our already top of the top top genius pirates ala internet era hackers.

  11. #11 by monsterball on Sunday, 30 January 2011 - 11:52 am

    Looks like Dictators are falling in Middle East.
    Dictatorship still exists in Malaysia…after 55 years.

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