The latest mobile tool to suffer at the hands of a dictatorial regime isn’t a social network, or even an inflammatory mobile site. It’s SMS killer WhatsApp.
The instant messaging service sent out a Tweet from its official account, stating that it had been banned in Syria:
We are told that WhatsApp is now being blocked in Syria. A blow to free speech and open communications everywhere. Sad day for freedom.
— WhatsApp Inc. (@WhatsApp) March 5, 2012
According to TheNextWeb, killing WhatsApp is the latest in a series of measures aimed at putting down widespread protests in Syria.
The government has already censored mobile operators and, at times, shut down the internet all together.
WhatsApp isn’t the only mobile service to have been affected. Livestreaming app Bambuser recently suffered a similar fate.
The app’s blog also reports that authorities in Syria have been cutting off electricity in the country for “up to 15 hours a day”:
Assad’s government does its utmost to control not only the people but also the communications with the outside world. A few days ago they began to turn off the electricity for up to 15 hours a day. With no electricity one cannot charge devices or use the Internet. The lack of electricity is not all — when it returns — it starts with high voltage peaks which burn out any devices plugged in.
Activists tell us they’re afraid to use generators due to the noise they make. Security forces and the military now make regular checks at homes with generators, and those suspected of being anti-Assad protesters risk being arrested, tortured and even killed.
The people of Syria can still use WhatsApp as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) but not as a personal messaging service.