Ethiopia's government took a drastic step this month after university entrance exams were previously leaked and posted online, causing the tests to be canceled. The government opted to block social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as the rescheduled exam period got underway.
The ban has been in place since Saturday, much to the chagrin of many citizens. And while the government has said the ban is temporary, there are concerns about the precedent it sets about the lack of transparency and free speech.
"This time it is for a few days, but next time it might be for a month," Daniel Berhane, a influential Ethiopian blogger, told Agence France-Presse.
Government officials insisted the ban had the student's best interests at heart. "It’s a temporary measure until Wednesday," Getachew Reda , a government spokesman, said, Quartz reported. "Social media have proven to be a distraction for students."
Ethiopia has had issues with parts of the internet being blocked before. Censorship can often come in the form of blocked opposition blogs or shutting down access to human rights websites, the BBC reported. A recently proposed piece of legislation looks to "criminalize spamming" but has critics worried the measure would allow the government to censor journalists and activists, according to Quartz.
Social media sites have gone down in the past, but it typically lasted just a few hours and the government denied being involved. The most recent shut down marks the first time social media has been blocked nationwide, reported the BBC. One anonymous Ethiopian journalist covering the story told the British news service that the recent restrictions were "just the beginning."
The leak of the university entrance exams, which may have come from opposition media, forced the cancelation of the tests in May in what some described as an embarrassment to the government, reported the Associated Press.