Users face nationwide disruption of social media platforms ahead of PTI’s fundraiser

  • PTA claims all social media networks working, saying has not received any complaint

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani users faced a nationwide disruption of social media platforms on Sunday evening, with Internet monitor Netblocks and Downdetector reporting that the social media platforms, especially the website versions were down shortly after 5pm local time.

The disruption of social media platforms and internet slowdown occurred hours before the PTI was scheduled to hold a virtual fundraising telethon and launch its election manifesto.

The users reported difficulties in accessing popular social media platforms, including X, Facebook and YouTube on Sunday, Internet Monitor Downdetector said.

According to Downdetector, Users in major cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad began experiencing difficulties in accessing social media sites shortly after 4pm. Additionally, users also complained about sluggish internet services.

A sharp rise in connection outages on YouTube, X and Facebook was seen in downdetector’s graphs.

The reason behind the widespread disruption is yet not clear as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has not issued any statement.

“Live metrics show a nation-scale disruption to social media platforms across Pakistan, including X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube,” the internet tracking agency Netblocks said.

It added that the incident comes as “persecuted former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, PTI, launches its election fundraising telethon”.

In a similar incident last month, internet outages were also reported during a PTI virtual power show. The PTI had announced earlier on Sunday that it would hold a virtual fundraising telethon and manifesto launch at 9pm.

However, around 6pm users reported being unable to access social media platforms in several areas of the country. They also complained about internet services being slow.

When asked for a comment, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) told Dawn.com that all social media networks were active and the authority had not received any complaints.

‘Shutdown aims at stopping fundraiser’

Meanwhile, PTI’s Zulfi Bukhari said the internet shutdown was aimed at stopping the party’s fundraiser.

The party itself called the internet shutdown “absolutely shameful” and demanded that the IT minister resign “for this continuing damage to Pakistanis”.

“Another PTI online event. Another internet shutdown,” said party leader Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra.

According to a report by Surfshark, a virtual private network company headquartered in Lithuania, a half-year analysis of internet shutdown based on the Internet Shutdown Tracker revealed that Pakistan was responsible for three of the 42 new restrictions worldwide, which were imposed following Imran’s arrest.

At the time, access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube was restricted in the country. At the same time, several temporary cellular network disruptions were also witnessed across the country for several days afterwards.

The Surfshark report ranked Pakistan behind Iran and India as the countries leading the list of regimes that imposed internet restrictions during the first half of 2023 with Asia being the focal point of most internet shutdowns.

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