Ugandans hoping to use Facebook in Uganda might have to keep their virtual private network (VPN) resources closer after information communication and technology (ICT) and national guidance minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi revealed that the social media site will remain blocked in the country until further notice.
President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni blocked Facebook and other social media sites on the eve of the January 14 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The president, who won the presidential election just like his NRM party maintained its majority in Parliament, would later allow Ugandans to access other social media sites like Twitter and Whatsapp, Facebook remained blocked.
Now, Minister Baryomunsi has told state-owned New Vision publication that Facebook would remain blocked until the tech giant has committed to stop taking sides.
Baryomunsi said there are some ‘basics’ to be agreed on before lifting the ban.
“Engagements are going on between government and Facebook. Until we agree on the basics, the social media platform will remain closed,” said the minister.
“Why are they used by politicians whether from the NRM or Opposition? It should be a neutral platform of communication for all people to express their views without taking sides.”
Facebook’s problems with the Museveni government began when the tech giant took down accounts belonging to officials at the information ministry.
Like his boss Museveni, Minister Baryomunsi insists Ugandans will continue to live — with or without the ‘partisan’ social media site.
“Facebook is a privately owned platform which at the height of the campaigns last year and this year went partisan. They started accusing the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party of all sorts of things, cut off addresses of a number of NRM leaders and members including our ministry,” he noted.
“That’s when we said, we are not dying to have Facebook and we also cut it off.”