Jan, 13th 2021 – Uganda has banned social media in the country two days ahead of the presidential election. The election is pitting Yoweri Museveni against opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine.
In a letter to the internet service providers dated 12th January, Uganda’s communications regulator ordered for all social media platforms and messaging apps be barred until further notice.
Internet monitor NetBlocks said that its data showed a lengthy list of sites unavailable via Uganda’s main cell network operators. They include, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype, Snapchat, Viber, Google Play Store, among others.
The president Yoweri Museveni apologized for the inconvenience caused by the ban. He added that the country had no choice after Facebook removed several accounts linked to his re-election.
He said, “If you want to take sides against the ruling party, then that group will not operate in Uganda. We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad.”
According to Facebook, they took down the accounts linked to Uganda’s ministry of information due to false information. “used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were.”
Twitter blasted the move saying, “We strongly condemn internet shutdowns, they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the Open Internet.”
“Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections,” it added.