PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA – Users of Instagram, a photo app, are facing such warning on Instagram accounts which says that the popular photo-sharing app is now blacklisted for harmful content.
Such warnings are appearing on and off for at least five days.
Internet provider Koryolink, on which the warnings have appeared, said it has had no notice from the government that Instagram has been blacklisted.
Such warnings have also appeared when websites that link to Instagram are accessed through desktops or laptops using LAN cables on the North Korean Internet provider.
North Korea decided in 2013 to allow foreigners in the country to use 3G on their mobile phones, which generally require a local SIM card to get onto the Koryolink mobile carrier network.
That opened the door for them to surf the Internet and post to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. More recently, even live-streaming video had been posted using the new Twitter app Periscope.
It is pertinent to mention here that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is functioning normally in Pyongyang.
It is still unclear whether the blacklist status is an official ruling, or where the warnings originate from.
The apparent crackdown comes after a fire on 11 June at a luxury hotel used by tourists and foreign visitors in Pyongyang.
Photos of the fire leaked out of the country and appeared in media around the world despite not being reported by North Korea’s state-run media.
It is estimated that more than 2 million North Koreans now use mobile phones, but with few exceptions they are not allowed to access the Internet, meaning the mobile service is available primarily to foreign visitors, residents and businesspeople in the country.
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