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Zambia Blocks Access To WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Amid Elections

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Aug. 13, 2021, 2:06 p.m.

The Zambian government has reportedly blocked access to WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger according to Access Now and NetBlocks.

The government’s restriction comes off as a preventive action against its citizens from sharing unverified rumors and abusing the internet during the elections.

Lusaka Times, a local Zambian news organization, reported that officials from Zambia’s Ministry of Information and Broadcast Services considered shutting down internet access in the lead-up to election day, citing a desire to stop the spread of election misinformation. A dramatic decrease in election day internet traffic from the social platforms spotted by NetBlocks seems to confirm that the government moved forward with that plan.

Before the shutdown, Amos Malupenga, Zambia’s Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary had stated “The government, therefore, expects citizens to use the internet responsibly. But if some people choose to abuse the internet to mislead and misinform, the government will not hesitate to invoke relevant legal provisions to forestall any breakdown of law and order as the country passes through the election period.”

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Zambia is not the first African country to witness this during an election as social media restrictions and internet shutdowns are now a recurring theme for most African states.

Countries like Cameroon, Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Guinea, Togo, Benin, Mali, and Mauritania have faced social media restrictions and internet shutdowns during elections. A handful of others like Chad, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, on the other hand, have experienced similar restrictions for unrelated events.

Most governments argue that they carry out social media restrictions and internet shutdowns to maintain security during elections; however, it is glaring to see the process as a means to curb the spread of vital information among voters and the media within and outside the country.

Still, internet users in Zambia are now using VPN services to bypass the restrictions on WhatsApp and these other social media platforms. Yet, it remains to be seen if the government will enforce a full internet shutdown.

tag: Internet, social media,

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Verny Joy Author

Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.

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