President Museveni has admitted that government ordered for the shutdown of social media platforms in Uganda, a few days to the 2021 polls.
Addressing the nation on Tuesday, the President explained that he was irked by the recent blocking of government officials and NRM supporters by Facebook, adding that in retaliation, he directed the shutdown of social media platforms.
“When I heard about that(blocking NRM supporters), I told my people to warn those people that if that social media channel(facebook) is going to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who wants to use it. If you want to take sides, then you should not operate in Uganda because it(Uganda) is ours,”Museveni said on Tuesday evening.
The President noted that Facebook never responded to the request by government , prompting a shutdown in Uganda.
I am sure government has closed social media. This is unfortunate but unavoidable. There is no way somebody can come to play around our county to decide who is good and bad.I am sorry about this inconvenience for those using the channel but we can’t tolerate the arrogance of anybody to decide what is good or bad for us.”
Several social media users on Tuesday morning complained of slow internet and social media channels including facebook, Twitter and Whats App.
Many have since resorted to Virtual Private Networks, commonly known as VPN to go about the problem.
Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, earlier this week said that the said accounts were shut down over Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB).
“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 than they were.”
Anim-Addo said the network was linked to the government ministry of information and communications technology.
“Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network.”
On Tuesday, government issued a demand to Facebook and Instagram for an explanation on the blockade suffered by officials and supporters of the ruling NRM party.
“We demand that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram write officially to the individuals and provide reasons why they unilaterally that decision without applying the rule of natural justice and right to fair hearing,” government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo said.
The developments come barely two days to the hotly contested 2021 elections.
The Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen.Jeje Odongo last week said government is working on ways to manage social media for fear of being misused during the forthcoming polls.