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April 13, 2024
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Facebook confirms blocking Uganda officials Accounts for ‘inauthentic behaviour’ practices

Facebook has justified their move to shut a litany of accounts belonging to some of Uganda’s Government Top officials citing they were seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of Thursday’s elections internet giant confirmed to the AFP, Monday.

Uganda is holding presidential and parliamentary elections after a tense and bloody campaign, with the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, facing a stiff challenge from the singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi.

“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,” Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, said in an email to AFP.

“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.”

Anim-Addo said the network was linked to the ministry of information and communications technology.

“Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network.”

Social media giants have come under increasing scrutiny over the content they allow to spread on their networks.

Museveni’s senior press secretary Don Wanyama, who saw both his Facebook and Instagram account shut down, accused the company of seeking to influence the election.

“Shame on the foreign forces that think they can aid and plant a puppet leadership on Uganda by disabling online accounts of (ruling party) NRM supporters,” he said on Twitter.

“You won’t take away President Kaguta Museveni” he added, using the president’s second name.

Museveni’s online account is still active but many government officials and members of the ruling party have seen their pages taken down, including a well-known blogger and Museveni supporter, a prominent doctor and a senior official in the information ministry.

The president has long accused foreign organisations and elements of backing Kyagulanyi in a bid to remove his government.

Minister for Labour Frank Tumwebaze said that the owners of the platforms are abusing their own communication platforms.

“Connectivity should not be a right to enjoy at the mercy of tech giants. Facebook should unblock selectively targeted Ugandan accounts ASAP,” Tumwebaze said.

One member of the NRM’s campaign media, Ashburg Katto claimed that his account was suspended by Facebook at the request of the National Unity Platform presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine’s handlers in the United States of America.

Katto asked President Museveni to disable Facebook in Uganda until his account is reinstated.

About the Misleading behaviour

The term Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour was invented by Facebook, which describes it as when “groups of pages or people working together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing”.

The tech giant explains on its website that this is often linked to deceptive behaviour rather than content.

According to AFP, Anim-Addo said over 100 such networks seeking to manipulate public debate have been removed worldwide since 2017.

In December, networks managed from Russia and France — one linked to the French army — were deleted over accusations of interference operations in Africa.

And in October Facebook shut down the page of a conspiracy-fuelled political party in New Zealand accused of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus ahead of elections there.

In the wake of last week’s protests in Washington, tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google have all cut ties with Parler, a social media platform popular with some conservatives, likely to leave it without a hosting partner.

Uganda’s election has been marred by numerous arrests of opposition candidates and their supporters, as well as violence which saw at least 54 killed in protests in November.

Wine has a strong following among the poor and a young population who have known only the 35-year reign of Museveni, but the powerful incumbent is seen as almost impossible to unseat.

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1 comment

We only acted according to a directive from UCC - MTN Uganda on suspension of social media - Let Out News January 13, 2021 at 14:30

[…] MTN’s public statement comes just a few hours after Museveni bragged about the suspension of the social media platforms citing “arrogance” from Twitter and Facebook who without notification decided to block several pro-government accounts. […]

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