Kashmir the disputed region between India and Pakistan became the latest country to crack down on social media.
A total of more than 22 social media sites were blocked last week including popular sites Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Messaging apps Whatsapp, Snapchat, video streaming site Youtube and a host of other popular social media sites also found themselves blocked.
In the dragnet popular Chinese apps largely unknown and unused in Kashmir such as QQ, Baidu and Xanga also became inaccessible across the region. The likely reason being that authorities wanted to clamp down on any possible way of communication or efforts to circumvent the blocks of popular well-known apps by using lesser known ones.
The block has been largely unsuccessful, as while social media is blocked across the region many users quickly turned to technical measures to evade the block, namely using VPN services.
A VPN is a system that allows users to disguise what they’re doing via their internet connection on either a desktop, tablet or mobile using what is known as encryption and send it to a location outside the affected geographical area thus bypassing any censorship.
Using a VPN means that the authorities in Kashmir are not aware of what users are accessing with the result being social media again becomes accessible.
The social media ban came into force after clashes between civilians and security forces and in an effort to stop more civilians mobilising themselves via social media a month long ban was introduced.
The Indian-administrated region of Kashmir blamed Pakistani groups for the violence in an attempt the validate the reason for the blocks, although commentators suggest this is purely propaganda.
While it is likely true that social media and messaging systems are used by a few who are intent on causing violence and distress across the country it is the thousands of everyday Kashmiri’s who are now inconvenienced and caught up in the blockade.
Ordinary Kashmiri residents have been turning to VPN providers such as IPVanish who have VPN servers in the region in India and Kyrgyzstan that give the best possible speeds while allowing access to all social media sites, video streaming and messaging apps.
Other providers such as VyprVPN and ExpressVPN have also seen an increase in signups from across the region.
With all VPN providers offering both mobile apps and software for desktop and laptop computers it is extremely easy for Kashmiri citizens to evade the recent social media crackdown and with just one or two clicks be accessing the blocked sites as usual.
Local newspaper the Hindustan Times said of the ban of the “utter uselessness” of it due to the number of users now aware of VPN services and the way in which to bypass the blocks.
Kashmiri citizens are now advised to sign up to one of the many VPN services available such as those listed in our VPN Comparison Guide to bypass current and future blocks and access a free and open internet.