On April 16, 2021, Pakistan’s government ordered the country’s telecoms agency to temporarily shut down social media and instant messaging platforms after violent anti-France protests. The move was made amid fears that a radical group could use social media to perpetuate violent protests. The platforms that were unavailable included Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and Telegram. Social media access was restored in Pakistan after four hours of blockage.
From a Deutsche Well article:
Islamabad-based analyst Amir Hussain echoed those sentiments, adding that the ban on social media could have wide-reaching consequences on millions of people and businesses, many of whom have become dependent on social media to earn an income.
“Imagine the ways Uber drivers would be affected. Think of the women who are working at home and marketing their businesses through social media,” Hussain told DW, adding that thousands of Pakistanis living abroad also use social media to conduct phone calls, and will be cut off from their main lines of communication.
The Ministry of Interior of the Government of Pakistan issued a communication to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on 16 April 2021 that said in part:
Subject: COMPLETE BLOCKING OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
I am directed to refer to the subject cited above and to state that complete access to social media platforms (twitter, facebook, whatsapp, youtube and telegram) may be blocked from 1100hrs to 1500hrs on 16th April 2021 across the country.
— Ayesha Tanzeem (@atanzeem) April 16, 2021
Press Release: Access to social media applications has been restored.
— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) April 16, 2021