Uganda is expected to vote soon in a very close election between their long time leader Yoweri Museveni and frontrunner Bobi Wine, singer-turned lawmaker whose star power is making a big impact.
“We found this network to be linked to the Government Citizens Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda,” Facebook said.
“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 than they were,” Facebook said in a statement.
In an interview with the BBC Ofwono Opondo countered Facebook and said that none of the accounts shut down had the opportunity to refute the claims Facebook was making.
“We are not familiar with anybody who complains about these accounts,” he said. “The owners have not received any notice and no-one was asked to make any response to the allegations.”
Mr. Opondo described Facebook as high-handed. “I think they are playing the usual games,” he added. “We know that they have a side in this election perhaps.”
WATCH: We demand that @Facebook & @Twitter write directly to the individuals that lost their accounts. Since @Facebook cited @MoICT_Ug in their statement, let them write to us so that there’s a chance for a fair hearing.
Accounts lost on Facebook belong to @GovUganda employees. pic.twitter.com/gGSDYkfgWI
— Uganda Media Centre (@UgandaMediaCent) January 12, 2021
Some of the accounts that were shut down were actual officials of the Ugandan government.
Much of the campaigning in the country has been done online because of the pandemic and campaigning has not been allowed for fear of an outbreak.
Some opposition leaders running against the current leader have been arrested some for violating coronavirus restrictions and another for violating traffic laws.
We don’t want to ignore that some of the usual election games that occur in this part of the world are happening, at one point the Ugandan government asked Youtube to take down content posted by Bobi Wine fearing his popularity. The government has also been accused of raiding Bobi Wine’s home as election day draws near.
However, Facebook intervening in the election is making everything worse, the country has just shut down access to any social media website.
In response to the government shutting down social media, Twitter released a statement that independent journalist Tim Pool called the “best satirical tweet ever put out by a corporation.”
This has to be the best satirical tweet ever put out by a corporation https://t.co/QdBZIJTmAr
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) January 12, 2021
Mark Zuckerberg has said their platform must allow all forms of free speech and cannot become a centerpiece of political discussion.
Instead, Facebook has done the complete opposite but they better be careful because countries aren’t going to put a foreign company meddling in their elections. Social Media is under fire in the USA for being decisive however, playing the same games in developing countries that aren’t as stable could cause bedlam.
“(The election is) going to be peaceful, it’s going to be fair, it’s going to be free, it’s going to be credible and Uganda’s going to be peaceful after that,” he said.
“Whoever disagrees with the outcome of the election, the courts of law are available to take your challenge there.”
Tension & anxiety in Uganda ahead of elections on Thursday. Uganda shuts down social media platforms two days to election
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) January 12, 2021