Picture used for illustrative purposes only.
Sri Lanka has restricted access to major social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, internet monitoring organisation NetBlocks said on Sunday, after the government imposed a curfew to tackle growing unrest amid an unprecedented economic crisis.
The South Asian nation is facing severe shortages of food, fuel and other essentials, along with sharp price rises and crippling power cuts, in its most painful downturn since independence from Britain in 1948.
"Real-time network data show Sri Lanka has imposed a nationwide social media blackout, restricting access to platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram as emergency is declared amid widespread protests," NetBlocks said in a tweet.
A protester shouts slogans near a bus on fire during a demonstration in Colombo, Sri Lanka. AFP
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed a state of emergency on Friday, the day after a crowd attempted to storm his home in the capital Colombo, and a nationwide curfew is in effect until Monday morning.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp were among the platforms shut down by internet service providers on the orders of defence authorities, the pro-government Ada Derana news channel said.
"On the request of the defence ministry, service providers advised to temporarily restrict social media platforms," the broadcaster said, quoting Sri Lanka's media regulator.
Anonymous activists had called for mass protests on Sunday on social media before the order went into effect.Emergency powers in the past have allowed the military to arrest and detain suspects without warrants, but the terms of the current powers are not yet clear.
Lebanon's economic crisis, which erupted in 2019, has propelled more than three quarters of the population into poverty and the local currency has plummeted by over 90%.
Details of the latest emergency regulations were not yet made public, but previous emergency laws have given greater powers to the president to deploy the military, detain people without charge and break up protests.
The island nation has reiterated its commitment to repaying the entire $4 billion owed to investors in the rest of 2022 but in the absence of incoming dollars some analysts believe the country could face its first-ever default.
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