Instagram users from North Korea are issuing complaints about the popular photo-sharing platform being reportedly banned, as it was possibly added on a blacklist for inappropriate content.

Trying to launch an Instagram app on a mobile device in North Korea using the Koryolink carrier will result in seeing a notification that warns against connecting to their social network because it is a blacklisted site.

It’s not just on mobile devices, as users have complained about the same notification appearing if they accessed Instagram’s desktop version, as reported by the Associated Press. This issue first surfaced five days ago, and it’s been an on-and-off ever since.

Tech support staff at the North Korean carrier Koryolink said they were not informed about Instagram losing its access on the country’s territory and no changes in policy were sent to their headquarters.

The government has remained silent on the matter, as no notice was sent to the mobile phone service users about Instagram being blacklisted. Facebook Inc., the social network company that owns Instagram, is still up and running in North Korea when accessed from the Koryolink carrier.

Any attempts to post photos or to view other users’ Instagram galleries from any of the carriers were reported to fail. Even though Internet and basically all social media platforms are officially off-limits in North Korea, a law was adopted in 2013 to allow foreigners travelling to the country to use 3G data connection while on North-Korean territory.

What they have to do is buy a local SIM card that will allow them to receive the Koryolink mobile carrier network. This exception has opened the door for social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to enter the country.

Latest reports have shown that more than 2 million North Koreans have mobile phones, but Internet access is not available to them, with just a few exceptions: foreign visitors and businesspeople travelling across the country.

Foreigners posting pictures on Instagram – even if it’s only from time to time – offer a rare insight on how North-Koreans deal with daily life. Local officials have often expressed high concern about how information and images come and go from the country.

Uri Tours CEO Andrea Lee said that their company was not notified of any policy change that would ban Instagram. She also expressed the hope that it will temporary, as their tours that encourage foreigners to visit North Korea use Instagram as an important tool, because it helps them to motivate prospective travelers.
Image Source: Vice News