image sourceReutersimage captionAccess to mobile internet was introduced in Cuba in December 2018

The Cuban government has introduced new regulations on the use of social media and the internet, which critics say are aimed at stifling dissent.

The decrees were published in the wake of the largest anti-government protests to sweep through the Communist-run island in decades.

People used social media to share footage of the demonstrations and galvanise supporters.

The decrees make inciting acts "that alter public order" a crime.

They also order internet providers to cut access to those who "spread fake news or hurt the image of the state".

They were published in the Gaceta Oficial newspaper just over a month after thousands of Cubans took to the streets in a rare show of anger with the Communist government.

The protests, which started in the small town of San Antonio de los Baños, seemed to have no formal organiser but appear to have ben convened through an online community forum.

They quickly spread throughout the country after a live broadcast on Facebook of people attending the impromptu march in San Antonio was widely shared.

media captionThousands took to the streets in protest over the government's handling of coronavirus and the economy

Access to mobile internet in Cuba was only introduced in December 2018 but has given Cubans the ability to get news from sources other than state-controlled media.

However, Cuba's telecommunications network remains under the control of the state and in the hours and days following the protests, users found they could not access Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or Telegram.

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The director of Netblocks, a London-based internet monitoring firm, told the Associate Press news agency at the time that the outages seemed to be "a response to social media-fuelled protest" by the Cuban government.

Cuban officials said the new decrees were aimed at keeping Cubans safe from cybercrime.

Deputy Communications Minister Wilfredo González told AFP news agency the new regulations were brought in to protect Cubans' personal data and "their privacy".

But he added that they would also protect state officials as under the new rules "no one can denigrate an official of our country or our revolutionary process".

Human Rights Watch's Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco wrote on Twitter that the decrees were a move to tighten the government's grip on the internet.

Mr Vivanco added that "impacting the country's prestige" would now be considered a "cybersecurity incident".

The penalties for those incurring in such "crimes" have not yet been announced.