Blocked phone or account

Your mobile phone number or online account could be blocked if you are unable to use normally for example to make calls or receive messages.

Steps to take

If you cannot use your phone number e.g. for calling, receiving calls or messages

  1. Shut down the phone and restart it after a few minutes
  2. If you still cannot use the number, attempt to use it on another phone.
  3. Alternatively, call your mobile network operator from another phone and report that you cannot use your number

If you cannot access your social media account because it is blocked

  • Check if the blocking is temporary or permanent by checking the email or phone number associated with the account
  • If temporary, check the reason for blocking and if it was due to a malicious report, contact the social media company and make a complaint

When account is deleted:

This form of blocking is irreversible as it erases the account plus all the content.

When account is permanently blocked:

  • Usually, when you log in you will get a notification telling that your account has been permanently blocked, and that if you believe that it is a mistake you can learn more.
  • The first option is to use this route, and follow the instructions given, which involves giving the social media administration your personal details and why you believe the blocking to be mistake, and wait for a response.

If account is compromised and passwords either changed or intruded:

  • Report the account to the social media admin for impersonation, which will get the account blocked.

Inform your contacts

  • about the situation so as to protect your credibility
  • Open a new account

Safeguarding your social media account:

  • Minimise and keep track of the number of people that have access and passwords to your account.
  • Use a secure link when logging into your email and social media accounts.
  • Use good passwords that can’t be easily guessed.
  • If you are using a public or shared computer to access your accounts, always remember to log out.

More information on the threat

Being blocked from a social media platform could therefore be a form of Internet Censorship that limits an individual ability to seek, receive and disseminate information. Blocking can be reinforced through:

a). Statutory provisions that criminalises speech that paints public bodies and authorities in bad light.

b). Statutory provisions that give state authorities the rights to surveil and suppress speech that is inciteful against the State.

c). Statutory provisions that are vague as to what constitutes false information or as to the the limitations it imposes on free speech. This gives room for arbitrary definitions by the State.

d). Use of technology to surveil and identify sites that are used by human rights activists.

There are different types of account blocking:

By platform

  • Temporary blocking – lasts for 24 hours
  • Permanent blocking – indefinite
  • Partial-temporary blocking – some functions are blocked whereas others remain active.
  • Deletion of the account – all the content and the account itself is deleted. It no longer exists.

Through account compromise:

Access to your e-mail and social media accounts is denied because passwords have been changed.

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