In an order given yesterday by the Tajikistan Office of Telecommunications, all internet service and mobile providers have blocked public access to Facebook.
This is the second time that the Tajikistan government has seen fit to impose the block, having enforced a partial block of the site a few days ago and a temporary full-scale block in March. This time round, state officials are citing the need to stem the flow of “mud and slander that flows from the website”.
The other reason given by Beg Zukhurov, head of the state controlled communications service, in response to Reuters was the outcry from “academics, doctors and important cultural figures” to stop the growing dissent for the government among the middle to lower-class population.
Zukhurov also stated Facebook users are being paid between US$5 000 to US$10 000 to post defamatory comments about members of state, specifically long serving President Emomali Rahmonov. Can you imagine being paid to troll?
Zukhurov did not however disclose any evidence to support his claim rather outlandish claim. This development is seen by political analysts as a silencing tactic used by many state controlled entities ahead of next year’s election, which would see President Emomali Rahmonov extend his reign to two decades.
It’s reported that some users have downloaded some sort of workaround software to get past the state enforced black and ensure they never miss an update or poke.
It will be interesting to see that kind of effect this has on the election considering there are only an estimated 41 000 Facebook users in the country which account for less than one percent of the population.
This does not however downplay the significance of the block, as the Tajikistan government could easily see fit to impose future blocks on other websites and ultimately control the flow of information within the country.