Should governments regulate social media?April 19, 2021 1664 views 8 comments 2 minutes reading time
African governments across the continent are putting in place strict laws regulating the internet.
The power of online platforms in many countries has led to censorship, arrests and internet shutdowns, perhaps spurred by the metamorphosis of hashtags into social movements.
We asked broadcaster Zeinab Badawi whether governments should regulate social media
Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, suggests the need for proper structures governing the digital space
This view was echoed by Zeinab Badawi
Tech-savvy Africans have found ways of bypassing “Big Brother” by using VPNs (encrypted data paths) to access content currently being restricted by several African governments in the name of maintaining the security of their citizens.
However, this has led to further crackdowns. On 18th of January 2020, netizens in Zimbabwe could not access the internet after a shutdown was imposed by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government following a countrywide fuel hike protest, flooding social media with memes and hashtags of “Bring Back Mugabe!”.
Ethiopia, a country quite familiar with internet restrictions, was subjected to a two week internet and social media shutdown in June 2020, following unrests fueled by the death of prominent Oromo singer and activist, Hachalu Hundessa.
In Tanzania, the digital space was silenced, with internet restrictions experienced in the country for more than a week after their October 2020 general election.
In Nigeria, the #EndSARS movement that spilled from social media platforms onto the streets forced the government’s hand in restricting internet access. The protests call for urgent police and governance reforms.
We asked Paula Ingabire, Minster for ICT and Innovation in Rwanda, for her thoughts on about freedom of digital expression
Should governments regulate social media?Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to the policymakers and experts!
Image by Angelo Moleele via unsplash