Africa is the second most intensive continent by internet censorship after Asia: in addition to multi-year restrictions, five African countries censored the internet 13 times in 2022.
According to Surfshark’s internet censorship annual recap, 4.2 billion people were affected by mass internet censorship in 2022 globally. Asia accounts for nearly half of all new cases in 2022, while Africa comes in second. Internet censorship remains a common technique used by autocratic governments to isolate their citizens from the outside world.
"More than half of the world’s population was affected by internet censorship last year. Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level. These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests, or violent government repressions," Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokeswoman. "Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilize people for the defence of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites, and spread information to the outside world on what’s happening."
Asia continues to lead by internet disruption count, while Africa comes in second. 11 Asian countries imposed new internet disruptions in 2022, bringing a total of 58 cases. The Jammu and Kashmir region have the highest disruption count in the world (24), followed by Iran (11) and India (10).
Africa follows Asia as the second most disruption-intensive region, with 5 countries imposing 13 restrictions. Sudan takes the lead in Africa by disruption count (4), followed by Burkina Faso (3) and Zimbabwe (3), Sierra Leone (2) and Somalia (1).
"Through the past year, we’ve seen how governments have used internet shutdowns and telecommunications blackouts as a tool of repression and control, silencing journalists, civil society, and the general public. Internet connectivity today underpins all human rights, which is why it’s more critical than ever to document mass-censorship incidents and find ways to get people reconnected." Alp Toker, Director, NetBlocks, said in a statement shared by Benjamindada.com.
Related Article: The protracted history of internet shutdowns in Africa
Burkina Faso’s restriction was the longest in the world last year, followed by Russia and Azerbaijan:
- Burkina Faso restricted Facebook in January. The restriction continued into 2023.
- Russia’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram disruptions following the invasion of Ukraine are still ongoing. The country has also blocked access to major international news sites.
- Azerbaijan restricted TikTok in September. The platform remains restricted to this day.
Of all social media platforms, Facebook is the most hated by autocratic governments and remains highly censored in 2022. In fact, since 2015, a staggering 46% of the global population has, in some way or another, been affected by government-imposed Facebook restrictions.
The Internet Censorship Tracker was developed by Surfshark in partnership with internet watchdog NetBlocks. The research tracks partial and complete internet and social media shutdowns in 196 countries and territories from 2015 onwards.