Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

The Media and the Algerian Internet Rumors

Well, here we go again…the mainstream media tonight jumped on rumors that Algeria had shut down the Internet, without bothering to check their facts with people on the ground. They didn’t check Twitter either; Algerians were tweeting throughout. So far, neither the Telegraph nor Mashable–the two outlets primarily responsible for the rumor–have bothered to issue retractions, despite hard evidence.

The Telegraph’s report was just obscene–not only did they claim the Algerian Internet had been shut down, but their subheader also stated that, “Internet providers were shut down and Facebook accounts deleted across Algeria.” Really? Facebook accounts were deleted? The article doesn’t mention anything to back that up, so I have no idea what the intent was. Did users delete their accounts out of fear? Were they phished by the government and then deleted? Did Facebook delete the accounts of users utilizing pseudonyms? Did they really mean that Facebook was blocked?

Turns out, none of the above. In fact, the Internet didn’t go down at all, but that didn’t stop Mashable from parroting the Telegraph report. Algerian commenters quickly jumped in, however, to point out that the story had not been verified and that the Telegraph was Mashable’s only source.

Renesys, which was instrumental in reporting on the Egyptian Internet shutdown, explains the situation:

Algeria typically has about 135 routed network prefixes in the global routing table, and our data show that they are all still routed and relatively stable. Traceroutes inbound confirm that sites hosted in these prefixes are still alive, and spot checks of websites hosted in Algeria show that most are up and functioning normally. A few that we checked were unreachable, including the telecommunications regulatory authority (http://www.arpt.dz), the Prime Minister’s office (http://www.cg.gov.dz), and other sites hosted at Djaweb (Telecom Algeria’s hosting brand).

Now, there were indeed reports from some Algerians on Twitter that the Internet was intermittently off, which I see no reason to doubt. @EyesOnAlgeria, precise location unknown, reported earlier today that his (her?) Internet was unreliable.

As for the Facebook “deletions,” well…no evidence of any kind has surfaced as of yet.

6 Comments

  1. the media sees only a sports contest, winners, loser, polarities … it is lazy of them, you can see it in political writing where it is about the race, not the issues.

    best to ignore the media, as much as possible. they miss reality.

  2. If you could actually read the full Renesys report, you might be sufficiently ashamed of yourself to correct the totally bogus post you just made. But something about your post makes me think it unlikely you’ll do the right thing and correct the record. For the record, the renesys report neither confirms nor denies that traffic within the country has been shut down, since the methods it uses can’t identify Iranian-style filtering.

    • It’s not totally bogus, actually, as I confirmed that Algerians were still tweeting throughout. That implies that, even if there were a blackout (which I note is entirely possible), said blackout was NOT countrywide, as the Telegraph reported. Traffic was absolutely NOT shut down entirely, rather, Renesys could not confirm if there was ANY shut down. I note, via @EyesOnAlgeria’s statement, that it’s entirely possible that some was.

      Do you know what Iranian-style filtering means? That means the slowing of traffic, which ALSO does not equal a countrywide shutdown.

  3. Hi Jilian, We are still getting reports that some disruptions are taking place and that access is sometimes limited to social networkings site. We’ve updated our post on Mashable to reflect the information we’re getting from people within the country.

    Best,

    Vadim Lavrusik

  4. Recently there have been some rumors about the death of the Saudi Arabian king and now the information has proved to be false. I think during the times of revolutions the journalists are prone to come out with sensational news which later turn out to be misleading.

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