Libya Follows Egypt's Lead, Starts Shutting Off Internet Services

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Both the BBC and the AFP are reporting that Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya has begun to block user access to Facebook in the country’s capital of Tripoli and is sporadically shutting down electricity access and access to Internet connections in the rest of the country as a response to anti-govermental protests.

Effective Measure CEO Scott Julian has confirmed to TechCrunch that Internet access in Libya is indeed restricted, but not totally cut off. Effective Measure measures analytics tags on pages like arabia.msn.com within the MENA region.

Says Julian:

“At around 10pm local time, Internet traffic dramatically dropped across the board. Whilst not completely cut off it’s clear it’s a pretty concentrated effort, which in my opinion is unlikely to be the result of a random failure.”

“The profile of the change in traffic is very similar to what we saw in Egypt, and leads one to conclude that this isn’t the result of a group of random, unconnected events. It seems some ISP’s are still up and running, which follows the same pattern as the first shutdown in Egypt.”

Twitter user Ramy Raoof says that sources in Libya have cited the Facebook blocks, but that Twitter.com is still not blocked and Internet access is not yet down. I have contacted both companies for information and will update this post as soon as they respond.

You can follow the events in Libya on Twitter at #Libya and #Benghazi.

Al Jazeera is also reporting access to its Aljazeera.net site being cut off as well as access to select Facebook opposition groups. This is reminiscent of the steps former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak took to cut off Internet access in Egypt before popular uprisings lead to his resignation.

View the BBC’s video here.

As with Egypt, Telecomix is offering a free dialup number to Libyans who are having trouble connecting.

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