The Twitter Public Policy team criticized the government of Uganda for ordering internet service providers to block access to social media sites ahead of the country’s Jan. 14 election shortly after executing a large-scale purge of U.S. users, including President Donald Trump himself.
The Ugandan Communications Commission ordered internet service providers in the country to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging websites, according to Al Jazeera. Twitter called for “access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter” less than a week after the social media site permanently banned Trump due to a “risk of [his] further incitement of violence.”
Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections.#UgandaDecides2021 #KeepItOn https://t.co/Q2SJfsFUiD
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) January 12, 2021
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
Twitter later banned more than 70,000 other accounts that it claimed were “primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content.” Many Twitter users with conservative and right-leaning audiences said that they lost thousands of followers as a result of the bans. (RELATED: After Reportedly Receiving Numerous Customer Complaints About Censorship, Local Internet Provider Offers To Block Twitter And Facebook)
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has held office since 1986 and been accused by opposition leaders of violently cracking down on his opponents, according to The Independent. Museveni reportedly responded by calling his chief challenger, Bobi Wine, an “agent of foreign interests.”
Museveni’s move to crack down on social media use follows Facebook banning multiple Ugandan government officials from the platform, according to the BBC. Facebook said the government accounts “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.”
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo denied the allegations. “We are not familiar with anybody who complains about these accounts,” he told the BBC.