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Uganda blocks Facebook before controversial elections



Nairobi, Kenya-Ugandan President Joseph Museveni (Yoweri Museveni) blocked Facebook from operating in his country. Just a few days ago, the social media company cancelled fake accounts related to his government. A few days later, This fierce election was held on Thursday.

Museveni accused Facebook of being “arrogant” in a televised speech late Tuesday night and said he had instructed his government to shut down the platform along with other social media, even though Facebook was the only one he appointed.

Museveni said: “The social channel you are talking about, if it is to operate in Uganda, should be used fairly by everyone who must use it.”

; He added: “We cannot tolerate anyone to decide who is for us. Who, who is the arrogance of bad guys.”

Officials said that the Facebook ban took place at the end of the election period, which was blocked by the suppression of political opposition, harassment of journalists and national protests, resulting in at least 54 deaths and hundreds of arrests.

The 76-year-old Museveni (Museveni) is re-elected for the sixth term and faces 10 competitors, including 38-year-old rapper and legislator Bob Wine. Tear gas, and was accused of violating coronavirus rules during the campaign.

Last week, Mr. Wynne filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court, accusing Mr. Museveni and other current and former senior security officials of approving a wave of violence and human rights violations against citizens, politicians and human rights lawyers.

Facebook announced this week that it had shut down a network of accounts and pages in this East African country that involved what it called “coordination of untrue acts” aimed at manipulating public debates surrounding the election. The company stated that the network has established links with the government’s Citizen Interaction Center, which is part of the Uganda Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and National Guidance.

A Facebook representative said in a statement that the network “uses fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, and reshare posts in groups to make them look more popular than before. “

Facebook’s investigation of the network began with research conducted by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory, which showcased a network of social media accounts that participated in a campaign aimed at criticizing the opposition and promoting Mr. Museveni and The ruling party’s national resistance movement. After the study was published, Twitter also said it had closed accounts related to the election.

A few hours before Museveni’s speech, social media users across Uganda confirmed its online communication restrictions, and the digital rights organization NetBlocks reported that platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter have been affected.

On Wednesday, MTN Uganda, the country’s largest telecommunications company, confirmed that it has received instructions from the Uganda Communications Commission to “suspend or directly access or use all social media platforms and online messaging applications via the Internet until further notice.”

Felicia Anthonio, an activist for the digital rights non-profit organization Access Now, said the authorities have blocked more than 100 virtual private networks or VPNs, which can help users avoid censorship and browse the Internet safely.

Uganda blocked the internet during the 2016 general election and introduced a social media tax in 2018, aimed at increasing revenue and curbing what the government calls online “gossip”. This move was criticized as a threat to freedom of speech, and it had a negative impact on the use of the Internet as a whole. Thousands of Ugandans gave up Internet services altogether.

Expected to close again this week, a group of organizations dedicated to ending the global Internet outage sent a letter to Mr. Museveni and the leaders of the Ugandan Telecom Company, urging them to maintain access to the Internet and social media platforms during the election.

Mr. Museveni ignored their call. On Tuesday night, he said the decision to block Facebook was “unfortunate” but “inevitable.”

He said: “I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused.” He added that he himself has been using the platform to interact with young voters. He has nearly one million followers on Facebook and two million followers on Twitter.

Museveni (Museveni) made rebellious remarks, saying that if Facebook intends to “stand on the side”, then it will not allow operations in the country.

He said: “Uganda is ours.”




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