Uganda: Spotlight On Media Actions And Activities As Country Goes To The Polls
As Ugandans go to the polls for their general elections, the use of social media platforms has taken a renewed centre stage. In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, campaigning for votes in 2021 has changed the way politicians mobilise and send their messages to their supporters. Online media and broadcasting have proven to be the primary way to communicate with the candidates’ various audiences.
However, there have been reports of alleged censorship and blockages by the incumbent government. Global tech companies like Google and Facebook have caught in the crossfire. For example, last December, the Ugandan government asked Google to block at least 14 YouTube accounts linked to the country’s primary challenger in the upcoming elections for “sensationalist” broadcasts. Earlier this week, reports emerged that Facebook has taken down a network in Uganda linked to the country’s ministry of information for using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week’s presidential election.
These actions have reminded many of the 2016 Ugandan elections, where the government blocked access to social media sites and mobile-money apps, citing national security. It blocked social media access in the lead up to the installation of Museveni as president, and they also barred all mainstream media from covering opposition’s live events.