Across Africa, new battlefields for free speech take shape on social media

Jul 25, 2018 by

Ahead of Zimbabwe’s July 30 elections, some voters are enjoying the freedom to criticize candidates online. It was only last year, weeks before former President Robert Mugabe was deposed in a coup, that his government arrested a young American woman in Zimbabwe for allegedly tweeting that the country was run by a “sick and selfish man.” Elsewhere in Africa, more social-media freedoms are hardly the trend. Tanzania, for example, recently slapped a $900 fee on bloggers, and Uganda has imposed a 5 cents daily fee on many apps’ users. But activists are increasingly viewing clampdowns on social media as a kind of early warning system for broader attempts to muzzle freedom of expression. “Around the region, you’re seeing people realize that the clamping down of online spaces is not something that they can just sit and watch,” says Joan Nyanyuki, regional director of Amnesty International. “They see that protecting freedom of expression is one of the key ways to safeguard against other human rights violations. It’s really a way that governments can be held to account by ordinary people.”

Source: Across Africa, new battlefields for free speech take shape on social media – CSMonitor.com

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