The Government of Uganda has shut down access to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and messaging app WhatsApp as Ugandans throng polling stations, today.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) cites ‘national security ‘as the reason to block access to the platforms. However, some Ugandans have bypassed the restrictions by using Virtual Private Networks access while others are using alternative browsers and apps.
Reports of users saying they are unable to access Facebook and WhatsApp started flowing as early as 8am. Although mobile operators haven’t issued an official statement about UCC’s actions, MTN had notified customers that its mobile money service will be interrupted for some time.
This will not be the first time Uganda is blocking social media access. In 2011, during presidential candidate Kisye Bisgye walk-to-work campaign, UCC asked Internet Service Providers to shut down Facebook and Twitter for 24 hours.
Then, like today, the commission said the social media platforms were aiding the spreading of messages that were deemed inflammatory and inciting during a ‘sensitive period.’
— Anna Clante (@AnnaClante) February 18, 2016
— Nile Chronicles (@NileChronicles) February 18, 2016
— New Vision UGANDA (@newvisionwire) February 18, 2016