The Ethiopian government has finally restored internet restrictions on popular social media platforms after barring access for five months.
The limits, which were first put in place on February 9, 2023, had an impact on services including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, TikTok, and YouTube.
In response to anti-government demonstrations brought on by conflicts within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), the limitation was placed in place. Since Monday night local time, the limitations have been covertly lifted, allowing Ethiopians to once again freely access and interact with these well-known internet platforms without VPN.
Human rights organizations had criticized the ban. Amnesty International denounced the decision a month after the limitations were put in place, stating that the ban on some social media platforms blatantly infringes on the rights of citizens to information access and freedom of expression.
A parallel statement was made by Daniel Bekele, the Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC). On March 3, 2023, the Ethiopian Media Council (EMC) joined the chorus, expressing its concern about the obstruction and urging the government to stop repeatedly shutting social media sites.
A local CSO, Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), said last week that Ethiopia suffered a stunning economic loss of more than US$140 million as a result of the five-month internet access ban.
Using VPNs to access the internet and social media became very common during the Ethiopian blackout. Frehiwot Tamiru, the CEO of Ethio Telecom, spoke to parliamentarians just one month ago and expressed dissatisfaction with how social media prohibitions were affecting users. Frehiwot highlighted that Ethio telecom has no control over these limitations.