Ugandan President blocks Facebook before elections

The current president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has blocked Facebook operations in the country “until further notice”. The decision was made a few days after the social network removed fake accounts linked to its government and just before a heavily contested election was held there, scheduled for tomorrow (14).

“The channel you are talking about, if you want to work here, should be used equally by all who wish. We cannot tolerate this arrogance from anyone who tries to decide for us who is good and who is bad”, declared Museveni.

Repression of political opposition, harassment of journalists and protests across the region marked the electoral period in question, resulting in at least 54 deaths and hundreds of arrests, according to officials.

Yoweri Museveni, current president of Uganda.Yoweri Museveni, current president of Uganda.Source: reproduction

Aged 76 and running for the sixth term, Yoweri faces 10 other candidates, including Robert Kyagulanyi (“Bobi Wine”), who last week filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court and accused the president and others of sanctioning a wave of violence and human rights violations.

During the campaign, Robert was beaten, beaten with tear gas and accused by the courts of breaking the rules for preventing coronavirus.

Robert Kyagulanyi, candidate for the post.Robert Kyagulanyi, candidate for the post.Source: reproduction

“Office of Hatred”

In its defense, Facebook claims that the overturned account network exhibited “coordinated inauthentic behavior” with the aim of manipulating the public debate around the elections, something similar to that carried out by the “Gabinete do Ódio” in Brazil. In addition, it would be linked to the Government Citizens Interaction Center, an initiative that is part of Uganda’s Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and National Guidance.

Fake and duplicate accounts, posing as real and responsible for managing pages, commenting on other people’s profiles and sharing content, made up the scheme, making materials look more popular than they really were – discovered after a Digital Forensic survey Atlantic Council Research Lab, initiated after suspicions of promotion and inappropriate criticism of Yoweri Museveni and his party.

Museveni would be linked to the dropped network.Museveni would be linked to the dropped network.Source: reproduction

WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter, in turn, were also affected, according to the digital rights group NetBlocks – and Uganda’s largest telecommunications company confirmed receipt of orders to suspend use of these platforms and access them until further notice.

Museveni would have ignored requests from several and entities for this not to go ahead. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience,” he just said.

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