Millions of people depend on Facebook to get online. Power outages left them stranded.

But in 2016, the program (now renamed Free Basics) was Banned by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which claimed to have violated net neutrality. Despite this setback, it has continued to appear, with less fanfare, to other countries in the developing world. In 2018, Facebook She said put 100 million people online. In 2019, FreeBasics was available in 65 countries, About 30 of them are in Africa. Last year, the company began rolling out Facebook Discover, which allows Internet users to access low-bandwidth traffic everyone Websites (not just Facebook properties) even if you run out of data.

Versions of these programs also exist in Afghanistan, where many new Internet users connect Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to the entire Internet. Even among those with broader access to the full web, Facebook’s suite of products still plays a vital role. WhatsApp calling, for example, has long replaced more expensive — and less secure — phone calls. Many small businesses rely on Facebook’s tools to sell and advertise their products.

All of this means that even temporary interruptions have a devastating effect, especially for activists and defense organizations – and people like Bezhan.

“A lot of planning and support happens underground on social media,” says Bezan, and a lot of that was via Facebook, WhatsApp, and the Messenger app. The blackout interrupted its efforts to “provide Afghans with information, plan strategies on our next steps for evacuations, [and] Connecting those in need.

It was past midnight for Bezhan when Facebook started to come back to life, but even then, some of its functions, including search and notifications, weren’t yet available. She hasn’t heard back yet on whether she could add another name for a possible eviction.

But she was also worried about what her Afghan friends were feeling and thinking, as their main relationship with the outside world suddenly broke off. For weeks since the fall of Kabul, there have been rumors that the Taliban have cut off internet access. “I bet they create rumors and come up with stories about how the new government is banning the media,” she says.

They will not be alone. In response to similar concerns, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Communications of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Twitter took over To set the record straight: “Internet is not disconnected,” he wrote at 4:05 p.m. ET. It’s a global blackout that is crippling WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Other apps like Twitter are working normally. The same goes for the rest of the web. “

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