President Yoweri Museveni has on Tuesday evening explained why he directed the Uganda Communications Commission to block Facebook and other popular social media websites in the country because they have been selectively blocking accounts of pro NRM bloggers.
Museveni said this while addressing the country ahead of Thursday’s elections. Dressed in a military jacket, the president accused Facebook of “Arrogance” adding that unless the social media sites can’t let equitable access to the site, he will keep them blocked.
“That social channel you are talking about, if it is going to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who has to use it,” Museveni said. “We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad,”
Facebook last week removed accounts of various Pro Museveni accounts including the account of his advisor Jeniffer Nakagubi populary known as Full Figure, NRM blogger Isma Olaxess, Bajjo Events a pro NRM events promoter and Ashburg Katto an NRM blogger who crossed to NRM from People Power barely 10 months ago.
Facebook said that they removed those accounts because they were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” with the only aim of manipulating the public opinion ahead of the presidential elections.
The blocked Social Media sites however are not only those belonging to Facebook Inc. but rather all popular social media sites like Twitter and Google’s Youtube are also blocked. The users’ ability to download mobile apps from Android’s Google Store and Apple Store has also been restricted.
Former Minister of ICT Frank Tumwebaze who is currently the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development was seen recently saying that connectivity in Uganda should not be at mercy of Tech Giants like Facebook, in the tweet where he tagged ITU the UN Agency responsible for connectivity inclusion across the globe.
This is not the first time Uganda is blocking social media sites ahead of elections. In 2016 elections, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp were blocked for 72 hours from February 18 – 21 February during the process of voting and tallying votes. Social Media was also blocked in 2016 May during the swearing in ceremony of President Museveni for the 5th term. From 2018, access to social media has been restricted to only people who subscribe by paying the daily Over the Top (OTT) Tax.