From access deprivation to skill acquisition: Cluster analysis of user behavior in face of a 12-hour legal blockage of WhatsApp in Brazil

This study takes advantage of a forceful legal 12-hour deprivation of access to WhatsApp messaging service nationwide in Brazil on 18 December 2015. Right after the blockage, we ran a survey to capture the reaction of Brazilians that were cut off from the App, aiming to understand which factors point to the capacity to successfully circumvent the blockage. Anxiety, digital skills and gender were found to be related to success, while isolation and age were not. Furthermore, a cluster analysis of 306 respondents that attempted to bypass the blockage identified four groups that summarize the reaction patterns in face of the blockage: the deprived, the challengers, the addicted and the elite. We discuss the possible implications of the findings for the field.