President Tibuhaburwa Yoweri Museveni of Uganda may be chest thumping for effecting a move banning Facebook from the country, but his woes with other giant social media platforms aren’t about to end.
In January 2021 during the heat of presidential campaigns, Facebook removed several Uganda’s ruling party NRM leaning Facebook accounts accusing account holders of spreading hateful propaganda. This didn’t go down well with the authoritarian president who reacted by banning Facebook in the country.
This came toes on heels of total shut down of the internet during the casting and tallying of presidential elections votes. Although this move adversely affected the economy, but the president would rather suffer the economic set back than losing an election. In one of his speeches, the president boasted of having chased away Facebook. “We chased Facebook away”. The president said.
Twitter Comes into the fray
Microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, has announced that it has shut down 418 “propaganda” accounts belonging to President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM).
The company claimed the NRM accounts were part of the 3,465 pro-government propaganda accounts that were eliminated in six countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Venezuela, China, Russia and Mexico.
According to a statement released by Twitter on Thursday, the removed NRM-affiliated accounts were “engaged in coordinated inauthentic activity” which is against the community rules of Twitter.
Twitter said, “We removed a network of 418 accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic activity in support of Ugandan incumbent president Museveni and his party, National Resistance Movement (NRM).”
Twitter views coordinated inauthentic behaviour as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal.
The microblogging site said that they believe they have a responsibility to protect the integrity of public conversation and to offer meaningful transparency about their findings.
Coordinated Inauthentic behaviour also violates Twitter’s manipulation and spam policies.
This is however not the first time that social media accounts affiliated to the NRM are shut down.
In January 2021, Facebook deleted 426 accounts that were affiliated to NRM and President Museveni.
Out of this total, 210 were pages, 62 were Facebook groups and 153 were Instagram accounts.
Facebook then said in its transparency report that they had removed Ugandan pro – Museveni accounts for “using duplicate accounts ahead of the presidential elections with an aim of manipulating debate.”
Some of the deleted Facebook accounts were attributed to the Ministry of ICT in Uganda.
Major social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have on several occasions came under fire over failure to address misinformation, manipulation and hate speech on their platforms and deleting accounts suspected to be spreading propaganda is one way they are addressing that.
Twitter also said that with effect from 2022, they will launch an independent “Twitter Moderation Research Consortium” that will bring together experts to study possible improvements.
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