Uganda tries to block Facebook, Twitter

As protests in Uganda continue over rising food and energy costs, the country’s government has attempted to block social networking sites Facebook and Twitter in an effort to curtail anxiety now fomenting in the country. It follows a similar pattern seen in North Africa, where Egypt and Libya blocked Internet and mobile communications as protests there increased.

According to reports, the Ugandan government has asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to shut down access to the social media sites.

The move has shocked activists, who say it is a sign that the situation in the country could become serious, especially if their access to their online networks are limited.

“We rely heavily on giving information on Facebook and Twitter, especially to the outside world, so if this happens, then we don’t know what will be the next move,” said one activist, who asked that their name remain anonymous.

A telecommunications ministry official, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said that these worries and reports “are not accurate.” He added that the government “would not shut down networks online because that would be an infringement on someone’s rights.”

It is unclear as of Wednesday morning if the government’s alleged shutting down of the sites would take place, but activists are watching with increasing concern over the future of their telecom industry.

“We worry that if the Internet goes, maybe they will try and close off mobile networks,” added the activist.

By Jonathan Terry