Egyptian government shuts down Internet

Chaos in Suez on Thursday (Khaled Desouki/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Wow. In a move called “unprecedented in Internet history,” the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all internet service. As of 7:30 p.m. PST, text messaging is also down.

From AFP:

CAIRO — Internet service was disrupted in Egypt early Friday as cell phone text messaging appeared to be down, hours before activists who used both to organise large anti-government protests planned further actions.

The interior ministry had said in a statement late Thursday it would take “decisive measures” against dissidents who planned protests after Friday noon prayers, saying the activists “sent messages to citizens to gather in a number of mosques in the provinces during Friday prayers.”

Tens of thousands protested around the country on Tuesday in the largest anti-government demonstrations in decades.

The protests continued on Wednesday and Thursday, killing five demonstrators and two policemen in clashes.

Mobile phone services went down on Tuesday in a downtown Cairo area where most of the protesters were gathered, and the social networking site Twitter said its services were also blocked that day.

In Cairo, internet users said they could not access the web, with some saying access was slow and intermittent, starting late Thursday. Text messaging was also unavailable.

Of note: The blackout came just minutes after AP posted this video of a man being shot during protests. (Warning: graphic, not surprisingly.)

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