Facebook and Twitter blocked in Uganda for UTL or WARID for providers



Social Networks in Uganda are gradually being blocked as a result of the graceful coverage of the current violence rocking most parts of city and major towns.

Two giant mobile and Internet Service Providers, Warid Uganda Ltd and Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL) have both blocked two of the world’s largest social networks- facebook and twitter.

I have attached the content of the letter written 14 April 2011 by Quito Ojok, AG Executive Director, Uganda Communication Commission, to:The Chief Executive Officers of Orange Uganda Ltd, MTN Uganda, Warid, Foris Telecom Uganda Ltd ; the Managing Directors of Uganda Telecom Ltd, Airtell Uganda, Africaonline Uganda Ltd, Afsat Communication Ltd, Broadband (U) Ltd, and the General Manager of INFOCOM? It says:

“We have received a request from the security agencies that there is a need to minimise the use of the media that may escalate violence to the public in respect of the ongoing situation due to the demonstration relating to “Walk to Work”, mainly by the opposition in the country. As a stakeholder that has communication infrastructures that host media such as Facebook and Tweeter, the Commission wishes to request for your indulgence in this matter.

You are therefore required to block the use of Facebook and Tweeter for 24 hours as of now, that is: 14th April 2011 at 3:30 p.m. to eliminate the connection and sharing of information that incites the public.

Your co-orperation in this matter is greatly appreciated

Several sources Echwalu Photography talked to claim that UCC instructed the above Inter Service Providers (ISP) to block facebook and twitter Internet Protocol (IP) address.

UCC however denies ever sending out such a directive, bending the blame rather to the ministry of ICT.

“We have not instructed anyone to block any social network,” Isaac Kalembe, UCC’s public relations officer noted. “Maybe it’s the ministry to ICT.”

Warid Uganda denied blocking any social network insisting that they too are facing the same dilemma being faced by their customers.

“No no, it is not we; it seems it is the government that has blocked the service. Even us we are crying like you,” a Warid Field Engineer who requested his name be to be omitted because he is not authorised to speak to the media said.

Social networks have tremendously grown in Uganda since the turn of the century where facebook, twitter and blogs have been used as an avenue to discuss both developmental and passive issues.
A civilian takes care of another injured by a teargas canister during the walk to work protest in Kasangati suburb of the capital, Kampala by opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kizza Besigye on April 15, 2011

A civilian takes care of another injured by a teargas canister during the walk to work protest in Kasangati suburb of the capital, Kampala by opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kizza Besigye on April 15, 2011

A recent survey by Google Zeitgeist, a tool that provides insight into internet trends places facebook as the second most popular website in Uganda after Google with over a million Ugandans already subscribed to the network.
Patients were evacuated in critical conditions after police fired teargas at a health centre in Kasangati suburb of the capital, Kampala during a walk to work protest by opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kizza Besigye on April 15, 2011

Patients were evacuated in critical conditions after police fired teargas at a health centre in Kasangati suburb of the capital, Kampala during a walk to work protest by opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kizza Besigye on April 15, 2011

Faceook and Twitter for example were widely used during the February 18 presidential polls where media houses, citizen journalists and social network fanatics circulated up-to-date information on the election results, violence among others.
A protester injured by a teargas canister during the walk to work protest in Kasangati suburb of the capital, Kampala by opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kizza Besigye on April 15, 2011

A protester injured by a teargas canister during the walk to work protest in Kasangati suburb of the capital, Kampala by opposition leader for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kizza Besigye on April 15, 2011

The trend has continued after the elections where twitter and facebook users have continued to change and share their status with other fellow users in the current ‘walk to work’ protests against the rising food and fuel prices in the country.

*Twitter is slowly coming back but facebook still remains blocked*

Shadows are cast of curious supporters eager to have a look at opposition leader, Kizza Besigye who was standing inside a trench after being stopped from walking to work as he continues to protest the rising food and fuel on April 15, 2011

Shadows are cast of curious supporters eager to have a look at opposition leader, Kizza Besigye who was standing inside a trench after being stopped from walking to work as he continues to protest the rising food and fuel on April 15, 2011

Ssemakula James
USA

Comments

2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Mark Ivan,

    Quite interesting. Why do i find these times similar to so Libya?

  2. peters simo,

    i believe u

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