Uganda has been having election fever since last year and its citizens have shown their interest towards the election on social media. Social networks have made it easy to keep up with events that happen in any country and we have definitely kept up with the events that are happening in Uganda right from these platforms.
However, social media is seen as a place where opinions are aired freely and it is no surprise there are countries that have effectively banned its usage (famous example is China). It seems Uganda has followed suit through several reports we are seeing on Twitter and Facebook where people are claiming that these platforms including WhatsApp have been blocked in the country.
— Rosebell Kagumire (@RosebellK) February 18, 2016
— Nancy Kacungira (@kacungira) February 18, 2016
— Andrés Moreno (@andresI4D) February 18, 2016
A rapid 120Mbps drop in traffic at the Uganda Internet exchange in the last hr. Symptoms of socialmedia filtering? pic.twitter.com/DAk8FLZ4Bh
— Tom Makau (@tommakau) February 18, 2016
On Facebook, it is the same situation where people are commenting about the social media blocking situation. If you conduct a search (#ugandadecides) on the search bar and tap on latest, you will see such posts.
According to a report by Freedom House, “social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are gaining popularity as a means of disseminating news and information.” In 2014, it was estimated that 6.8 million people are internet users in the country of which is roughly 18% of the population when you pin against the 2013 population data. However, Freedom House pointed out that the government was setting up a “social media monitoring centre although it was not clear if it was operating.”
If the reports are to be believed, it is a setback in an age where the world is closer than ever thanks to social media.
[Update: 11:48am] It has been confirmed by several sources that social media has been banned by the Uganda Communication Commission and will only be unblocked “after assessing the security situation.”
Just in: Uganda Communications commission confirm that Facebook, Twitter, mobile money services blocked for security reasons #UgandaDecides
— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) February 18, 2016
UCC says Facebook, Twiiter, WhatsApp, mobile money services will be unblocked 'after assessing the security situation' #UgandaDecides
— NBS Television (@nbstv) February 18, 2016