Second shutdown in a month in Burkina Faso

Published (updated: ) in .

For the second time this month, Internet access in Burkina Faso was disrupted. Information on previous shutdown in Burkina Faso can be found here:

Burkina Faso Internet eXchange Point (BFIX)

Cloudflare Radar

Google Transparency Report;end:1643155199999;product:19;region:BF&lu=fraction_traffic


OONI data
suggests that access to Facebook Messenger was interfered with in Burkina Faso between 11th January 2022 to 23rd January 2022, as illustrated through the following chart (which aggregates OONI measurement coverage from the OONI Probe testing of Facebook Messenger in Burkina Faso between January to February 2022).

Chart: OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT): Burkina Faso, OONI Probe Facebook Messenger testing between 5th January 2022 to 5th February 2022, 

In particular, the testing of Facebook Messenger presented signs of blocking on two AS networks in Burkina Faso: Orange Burkina Faso (AS37577) and ONATEL (AS25543). Out of the two networks, we observe a larger volume of anomalies for a longer period of time on Orange Burkina Faso (AS37577).

On Orange Burkina Faso (AS37577), most OONI measurements pertaining to the testing of Facebook Messenger present anomalies between 11th January 2022 to 23rd January 2022. These anomalies suggest DNS based interference, as OONI measurements show that DNS lookups did not resolve to Facebook IP addresses during the testing.  

On ONATEL (AS25543), OONI measurements only present signs of Facebook Messenger blocking on 12th and 13th January 2022, though it remains unclear if the potential block started on 11th January 2022 (similarly to Orange) as OONI Facebook Messenger measurements were not collected from this network on that date. It’s worth noting though that one measurement collected on 6th January 2022 suggests that Facebook Messenger blocking may have started before 11th January 2022. Anomalous measurements collected from ONATEL present signs of both DNS tampering and potential IP blocking (as some TCP connections to Facebook endpoints failed during the testing). 

While OONI measurement coverage from Burkina Faso in January 2022 was rather limited (thereby limiting our confidence for confirming this block), it’s worth highlighting that all other OONI Facebook Messenger measurements collected from 26th January 2022 onwards were successful (suggesting that Facebook Messenger was reachable on tested networks) – as illustrated through the previous chart. Similarly, most OONI Facebook Messenger measurements collected in previous months from Burkina Faso were successful too. 

The timing of OONI Facebook Messenger measurement anomalies (mainly between 11th to 23rd January 2022) coincides with the timing of media reports which alleged that authorities in Burkina Faso blocked access to Facebook for security reasons.