Evidence of social media disturbances in Ecuador as crisis deepens

Network information from the NetBlocks internet observatory reveal that social networks backend image and CDN servers were momentarily interfered with in Ecuador with state-run operator Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) on Monday, 7 October 2019 amidst a spiralling political crisis and prevalent protests.

The constraints were validated 11 p.m. Sunday, local time (4 a.m. Monday, 7 October 2019 UTC) as photos started to emerge on social networks of military implementations on the streets of Quito and the death of a protestor. Data show connection to affected platforms was brought back by 1 p.m. Monday local time.

Which online services were impacted, and when?

Backend image and CDN servers for Facebook and WhatsApp became unreachable for CNT customers late Sunday night (11 p.m. Ecuador time).

Network measurements support reports from numerous Internet users in Ecuador reported difficultly publishing audio, photos and videos online around the time in concern, needing to turn to VPN services to restore gain access to:

Lo vi en un meme y pensé q age eso, un meme, pero resulta q es imposible enviar o recibir audios y fotos vía whatsapp, o chequear Facebook desde el web de @CNT_EC. El meme decía q por orden “de arriba” limitaron el uso de datos y páginas para q no se difunda el #ParoNacional

— Alicia Ruiz Raimundo (@alissita) October 7, 2019

No puedo mandar audios y descargarlos, tampoco mandar fotos y descargar fotos, subir videos e igual no puedo acceder a whatsapp web y Facebook desde la computadora, tuve que descargarme un vpn en el cell y la compu para que funcione regular

— Slashi (@Jo_ceMv) October 7, 2019

Efficiency problems started to affect connection more normally on the exact same service provider in the following hours, while the backend server disturbances continued.

Which companies were affected?

The disturbances were observed affecting state-run operator Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT). Network measurement data show that connection stayed steady with all companies during the time in question:

Why has Ecuador declared a state of emergency?

Protesters including indigenous groups and those impacted by austerity steps have been on the streets protesting for several days.

Nevertheless, occasions took a significant turn over the weekend with the implementation of soldiers, numerous arrests, reported casualties at least one confirmed death, and the subsequent statement of a nationwide state of emergency situation.

The disruptions were determined soon after videos were posted to social networks revealing tanks rolling onto the streets of Quito:

#Ecuador Tanques en el centro de #Quito frente a lis protestas por el #Paquetazo y el #ParoSigue pic.twitter.com/P43goEZQMT

— Nodal (@InfoNodal) October 7, 2019

Users resorted to circumvention tools to navigate the constraints:

Hay reportes de bloqueo de señales/ comunicaciones para llamadas y transmisión de datos. Herramientas de mensajería que se pueden usar sin conexión an internet una vez bajadas e instaladas: FireChat https://t.co/zjFLSrkzr2 y Brair https://t.co/iyzIGWazXp #ElParoNoPara

— Valeria Betancourt (@valeriabet) October 7, 2019

On Tuesday, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno announced that his federal government will transfer from the capital city of Quito. The nation has considering that introduced curfews in a number of areas.

#TheCube|As protests in Ecuador continue into the 5th day, a bee has actually become the not likely face of the anti-austerity action. #YoTambienSoyZangano @Seana_Davis in The Cube has the current. pic.twitter.com/6WxB0cr4F7

— euronews (@euronews) October 8, 2019

What is the state of web gain access to in Ecuador?

Ecuador has a varied internet ecosystem supplied by numerous public and privately-owned provider. In 2016 a leaked memo verified secretive measures to introduce filtering systems such as deep-packet evaluation hardware, as reported by the EFF. Nevertheless, access has generally stayed complimentary and uncensored through subsequent years.


Measurement data from the period in question show that affected services consist of fixed-line connections, therefore the interruptions are not connected to the overloading of cell tower equipment.

Further, using VPN services by users to gain access to restricted services supply extra corroboration that the social media backend server limitations were not triggered by link-layer blockage.

Hence, it can be determined that limitations were used on Sunday 6 October 2019, with the apparent purpose of limitation the sharing of audio, video and visual material online.

We thank Fundación Karisma and the Association for Progressive Communications for offering context and background for this report.

Live report. Short article will be upgraded as information is processed.


Internet performance and service reachability are determined by means of NetBlocks web probe measurements. Each measurement consists of latency round journey time, outage type and autonomous system identity aggregated in real-time to examine service accessibility and latency in a provided country across service numerous network companies.

NetBlocks is a civil society group operating at the crossway of digital rights, cyber-security and web governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks pursues an open and inclusive digital future for all.

[approach handbook||] Graphics and visualizations provided under a free and open license for reuse with clear attribution.

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