President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has confirmed that his government blocked access to social media channels, including Facebook, days to January 14 elections.
Although Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) spokesperson Ibrahim Bbosa had January 12 morning told NBS there was no directive to block Facebook and other social media channels, Museveni revealed his government had restricted Ugandans’ access.
Describing Facebook as crooks, Museveni seemed to suggest that his government’s decision to block the social media network was in retaliation.
“The other day, one of the inter Inational crooks on social media – I think it is called Facebook or something like that – decided to block NRM message senders,” said Museveni during his January 12 night address.
Museveni also set conditions for Facebook if the tech giant wished to operate in Uganda.
“Why would anyone do it? When I heard that, I said ‘please, if that social media group wants to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably. If you want to take sides, then it should not operate in Uganda. Uganda is ours. I think government has closed that Facebook.”
Admitting the blockade was inconveniencing, Museveni swore he would not longer allow Facebook to arrogantly meddle in Uganda’s politics.
“I’m sorry about the inconvenience. I have also been using it to communicate with youth but we shall not tolerate this arrogance,” warned Museveni.
“They don’t know that Uganda is strong because of our massive organization, our strong army, and our strong economy. There is no way anybody can come and play around with our country to decide who is good and bad.”
Museveni’s statements come at a time when the big tech companies are in the spotlight for their partisan involvement in politics and their biased policing of human rights.
In the US, for example, the social media channels for months suppressed President Donald Trump’s posts in the run-up to the November 2020 election.
They continued to openly flag his posts with what they believed were facts – largely the viewpoints of the Democrats – as the 45th US president sought to challenge poll results.
The social networks have since deleted Trump’s accounts.