Latest reports coming in confirm that a temporary outage rendered Twitter and Facebook inaccessible for Airtel broadband users, across Delhi and Noida today. A host of tweets coming in roughly 2 hours ago, indicated the outage. Although there is no official word from Airtel at the moment, users have been taking to the popular microblog with tweets reading, “…cant access twitter or fb via my airtel broadband? Whats going on?” However, an Airtel broadband user in Delhi contacted at the time of writing this article clarified that the service was accessible.
The news is being largely fuelled by the fact the social networking sites are very popular in the country and hence, the report is enough to create some panic among users.
Tweets that came in during the outage
The news comes close on the heels of a recent report detailing several WordPress blog users using Tata Photon being unable to access the service. At the time, it had been reported that following a government order to block web pages containing offensive content, ISPs resorted to a blanket ban, blocking access to the entire site instead of clamping down on specific web pages carrying unacceptable content.
The government has been at the task of shutting down websites carrying offensive material in the light of the NE exodus in the country. The Centre has come down heavily on the channels it believes are playing a role in triggering fear and leading to the exodus. It has been found that morphed images and videos were uploaded to these websites with an aim to incite the Muslim community in the country. The count of blocked web pages is now as high as 310.
Recently, reports surfaced about a list containing 309 URLs, whose ban the government had sought in light of the Assam violence and the subsequent NE exodus. The aforementioned URLs comprised URLs, Twitter accounts, img tags, blog posts, blogs and a handful of websites, and were blocked between August 18, 2012 till August 21, 2012. In an analysis that Pranesh Prakash, programme manager at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), carried of the leaked items, among other things in his post, he wrote that, “It is clear that the list was not compiled with sufficient care.”
In his post, he further noted that the censorship process itself has been riddled with egregious mistakes. Giving instances of the egregious mistakes, he added that even some people and posts debunking the rumours were blocked as part of the censorship. Further, he wrote that some of the items that were blocked were not even web addresses (e.g., a few HTML img tags were included). In his findings, Prakash also found that despite there having been a clear warning issued by the DIT pertaining to the blocking of “above URLs only” and not that of main websites, like www.facebook.com, www.youtube.com, some ISPs (like Airtel) went “overboard in their blocking”. This incident in particular pertains to yesterday's reports, wherein it had been revealed that Airtel had blocked the entire YouTube short URL youtu.be in some cities.