On November 22, 2022 a web-based fact checking website “Fact Focus” claimed their website has been reportedly blocked after publishing wealth statements of COAS Qamar Javaid Bajwa and his family.
Fact Focus further tweeted that Urdu version of their report can be accessed at “Haqaia.com”
Many netzines also reported outage and suspected it as state censorship. While some were able to access the website with longer response time
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also condemned it as state censorship
We performed a “WHOIS” lookup and found that “Fact Focus” website is hosted on US based Cloudflare servers.
We checked for Cloudflare server outage during last 24 hours and found that outage was reported in Cloudflare’s Asian data centers on November 21, 2022.
Further analysis of Cloudflare servers found minor service outage reported on November 21, 2022
Official website of Cloudflare also reported a scheduled maintenance on different servers.
“Fact Focus” Website availability report on November 21, 2022 found it as unavailable at 03:30 AM
Outage was restored after an hour at 04:40 AM with longer responce rate
Netzines who reported the outage were facing ERR_Connection_Reset error which means that the browser is having trouble communicating with the host server of the website which can be caused by server outage, bandwidth limit exceeds or problem with internet connection.
We found that DNS for “Fact Focus” was not blocked by PTA. Censored website in Pakistan are blocked by restricting DNS servers if specific website when a user tries to access a blocked website browser returns “DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN” error
(Example of a blocked website)
Our factcheck found that Fact Focus website was not blocked by Pakistan Telecom Authority outage was possibly caused due to Cloudflare data center outages/maintenance. While Urdu version of Fact Focus “Haqaiq.com” was not taken down and was accessible during downtime of Fact Focus English website “Factfocus.com” which is being hosted on a shared server which includes www.factfocus.com, www.haqaiq.com, www.factmedia.org, www.factfocus.org
ABCDE Framework-Based Analysis
|Actor||Fact Focus official, Naya Dour media, Reporters without Borders and a number of independent accounts, especially those affiliated with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf are are involved in spreading disinformation on social media.|
|Behavior||Fake news of Fact Focus website banned by Pakistan Telecommunication authority was circulated widely.|
|Content||Social Media posts.|
|Degree||The targeted audience of the post was general public. The disinformation was spread on Twitter mainly.|
|Effect||Social media users showed concerned over restricted freedom of speech in Pakistan and bashed Pakistan army for silencing voices.|