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Algeria blocks social media to stop students from cheating on test

The country has imposed a digital blackout after questions from the 2016 International Baccalaureate exam were leaked on Facebook earlier this month.

by VICE News
Jun 20 2016, 3:11pm

Photo via Alison Wood/Wikimedia Commons

Algeria's government has reportedly blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites in an effort to keep high school students across the country from cheating on an important exam.

Earlier this month, questions from the 2016 International Baccalaureate exam were leaked on Facebook. More than 550,000 Algerian students are retaking their tests this week as a result of the fiasco. To prevent a new leak, authorities have taken drastic measures, including cutting off access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, and Google until June 23.

Some Algerians are getting around the ban by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which mask a user's IP address to make it seem like they are connecting from another part of the world. But some users have reported difficulties getting online since Sunday, prompting local media to speculate that the block is affecting more than just social media.

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Algeria's Ministry of Post, Information Technology, and Communication told Algerian daily El Watan that it wasn't aware of any move to limit internet service. The Ministry of National Education also tried to reassure disgruntled users, saying, "The internet will not be suspended during this second round of Baccalaureate exams, despite what has been reported."

Algérie Télécom, the country's main internet service provider, took to Facebook Sunday to wish "all Algerians" an "excellent week." But in the comments section of the post, many people expressed their anger over unreliable service, asking for compensation for the inconvenience.

Algeria's Ministry of Education has identified 31 suspects — including several teachers — in the leaked test question scandal.

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This article originally appeared in VICE News' French edition.

Photo via Alison Wood/Wikimedia Commons.