Libyan Internet Showing Signs of Life

On Sunday, after more than five months of nearly complete flat-lining, Libya's Internet began to display a faint pulse of activity. Blogger Ali Tweel, who tweets under the handle @TrablesVoice, tweeted, "Did you miss me? I'm glad that i managed to survive this! I missed you all." This tweet, coming from the middle of the night in Libya, was his first tweet since March 3rd, when the Internet shutdown began.

For the past month, there has been some traffic from the country, but far less than had existed before. The Internet tracking company Renesys first reported on Sunday morning that the Libyan Internet had begun to perk up Saturday, but had since been intermittent or gone entirely. During that brief period, a small stream of tweets, Skype calls, and messages to family abroad trickled out of the country. Who or what was responsible for the changes in Libya's Internet access over the weekend remain unclear. As Renesys explains:

Did the brief Tripoli Internet flicker represent a sign of conflict within the phone company itself, with someone struggling to reactivate service at the neighborhood level, only to have it switched off again at the national level? Or was the overnight routing failure just another in a sequence of (probably power-related) outages for LTT's outlier networks? The people without Internet access in Libya have a lot of questions at this point, and we don't have enough data yet to give them a satisfactory answer.

From Google's Transparency Report, a graph shows the weekend's pick-up (far right-hand side) after months of near silence:

libyainternet2.jpg

The story of Libya's Internet activity will continue to unfold throughout the day, one sign of the larger political developments now underway.

Image: Google Transparency Report.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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