The Government of Uganda has ordered the immediate shutdown of social media ahead of the country’s presidential election.
The Ugandan authorities have ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging platforms ahead of the country’s election scheduled for January 14, 2021.
The election will be contested between 76-year-old Museveni – who is the incumbent – and 38-year-old Bobi Wine, a popstar who turned politician.
According to Reuters, a letter by the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Irene Sewankambo listed the ban social media sites are 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.
UCC spokesman Ibrahim Bbosa, however, 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, TheCable reports.
In an email, Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, had said an account linked to the Ugandan’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.
“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.”