Vodafone Unblocks WordPress in Mumbai After Twitter Outcry
Mobile network Vodafone briefly placed a blanked block on both Blogspot and WordPress free-hosted domains, but lifted the WordPress block after an uproar erupted on Twitter.
Users of the 2G and 3G mobile networks in Mumbai were prevented from accessing WordPress.com domains. The block allegedly goes back a couple of months. The WordPress.com free hosted service is home to around 25 million blogs. Users in other parts of the country were able to access the domain, but in Mumbai the domain was inaccessible.
Users flocked to Twitter to complain about the block using the #vodafoneblocks hashtag. To support their campaign, they created a list of inaccessible blogs.
Users that complained directly to Vodafone were initially (and erroneously) informed that Vodafone simply provides internet access, and that if the blogs were inaccessible then the fault was most likely with either the blog itself or the handset that the customer was using to access the blog. They tried to blame devices, browsers and eCommerce operating systems. Presumably, front-line customer service agents were unaware of the real problem and assumed that the inability to access the domains was something that affected only one or two callers.
The flood of Tweets under the #vodafoneblocks hashtag must have attracted the attention of someone who knew what was going on. Users who sent Tweets complained about the block and the refusal of customer service representatives to put them through to a senior official that would be willing to work with them to solve the issue. Within 24 hours of the hashtag taking off on Twitter, the block on WordPress domains was lifted. According to some Twitter users, the block on Blogspot domains is still in place.
Whether the block was the result of a technical glitch or not is unknown. ISP level blocks are occasionally used to prevent access to illegal content, and they are common on domains that feature primarily user-generated content (such as WordPress and Blogspot), however blocking an entire domain in this fashion is unusual, especially when the block affects users only in one city. Vodafone have not issued a statement explaining the purpose of the block, or why it took so long to lift it.