Facebook confirmed shutting down accounts of Uganda’s top officials linked to President Museveni’s campaign accusing the campaign of “using 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.”
While the actions were objected to by various government officials including Duncan Abigaba, the Deputy Head of Government Citizens Interaction Center (GCIC), Ofwono Opondo; Government Spokesperson, Don Wanyama; President Museveni’s Press Secretary —Ugandans online said that the government has finally got a taste of what it feels like to be censured.
Facebook said government’s actions – linked to GCIC were equivalent to Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour..
Speaking to Victoria Uwonkunda of BCC World Service on this action, the Chairman of ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU); Mr. Albert Mucunguzi breaks down Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour as the creation of multiple accounts pretending to be someone you are not and saying things on behalf of people you aren’t.
“There have been active maneuvers going on on all sides of the political landscape in order to try and dominate [social media] conversation. From what we’ve learnt from Facebook some groups have engaged in activity that may not be consistent with Facebook rules or what Facebook judges as authentic,” says Mucunguzi.
Wanyama and other close aides to President Museveni accused Facebook of being opponents of the ruling party; NRM saying that the social network should unfree the frozen accounts. However, Mr. Mucunguzi said this isn’t a technical argument as Facebook has rules they follow.
Mucunguzi said it is in the interest of these social media companies to shut down fake accounts in order to enhance the authenticity of their platforms and to make sure that actual users want to use the platform for good. He adds they also have got the social responsibility of seeing their platform not being used to cause harm.
When asked if banning/shutting-down of social media accounts a curb of freedom of speech, he said Facebook is a business and [he] doesn’t believe that the social network is trying to curb freedom of speech.
“I don’t believe Facebook is trying to curb freedom of speech. Keep in mind that Facebook is a business and they have taken a lot of heat for using people’s thoughts, conversations and likes to make money. It wouldn’t be in their interest to try and not get as much of your opinion as it can because that’s it bread and butter,” he said.
The account shutdown comes amid heightened tensions between the two main candidates; President Yoweri Museveni and Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, presidential aspirant who are running against nine others.
Kyagulanyi has fired up the imagination of many across the global as he tries to unseat Museveni who believes that he (Kyagulanyi) is being backed up by foreign organizations and elements to remove his government.
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