Uganda shuts down social media — 48 hours to presidential election

The Ugandan authorities have ordered a shutdown of social media ahead of the country’s presidential poll.

The election is scheduled for January 14, 2021.

According to Reuters, the Ugandan authorities have ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging platforms.

Citing a letter from Irene Sewankambo, executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Reuters listed the banned social media sites as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal and Viber.

“Uganda Communications Commission hereby directs you to immediately suspend any access and use, direct or otherwise, of all social media platforms and online messaging applications over your network until further notice,” the letter read.

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But Ibrahim Bbosa, UCC spokesman, denied knowledge of a directive to switch down social media platforms.

The move is said to be in retaliation to the deletion of government officials’ accounts on Facebook.

Don Wanyama, senior press secretary to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni is among those whose Facebook and Instagram accounts were deleted.

In an email, Kezia Anim-Addo, Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, had said a network of account linked to the government’s ministry of information and communications technology was deleted over coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

“This month, we removed a network of accounts and pages in Uganda that engaged in CIB (Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour) to target public debate ahead of the election,” he said.

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“They 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 that they were.

“Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network.”

The election in the East African nation will be contested between 76-year-old Museveni and 38-year-old Bobi Wine, a popstar who turned politician.

Social media giants have continued to clamp down on politicians who use their virtual accounts to incite violence and cause tension during elections.

Facebook and Twitter have indefinitely suspended social media accounts of US President Donald Trump

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