Can Governments Really 'Block' Twitter? Not really. The domain name is inaccessible, but it's not that hard to get around

Posted in: Censorship at 27/01/2011 16:35

This week, Egypt became the latest Middle Eastern country to see massive anti-government street demonstrations. As in Tunisia earlier this month and Iran last year, activists have made heavy use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook -- and the Egyptian regime has responded harshly. On Jan. 25, Twitter officially confirmed reports that access to its site had been blocked. Is it really possible to do that?

Yes, but not very effectively. The Egyptian government appears to have been blocking access to the domain name, most likely with the assistance of the country's Internet-service monopoly TE Data. Later in the day on Tuesday, Egyptian authorities began shutting down wireless data services entirely in the areas where the protests were taking place in order to prevent demonstrators from logging on. (Facebook has also reportedly been suffering outages on Jan. 26, though the company denies that it has been blocked.) As is its habit, the Egyptian government hasn't created a redirect page for the site, but merely slowed traffic down to a crawl to give itself plausible deniability. Late in the day on Jan. 26, the site was reportedly accessible again.

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