Days after indefinitely banning Trump, Facebook has blocked a number of accounts belonging to Ugandan government officials accused of seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of elections Thursday, the internet giant said Monday.
Uganda is holding presidential and parliamentary elections after a tense and bloody campaign, with incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, 76, facing a stiff challenge from the popstar-turned-politician Bobi Wine, 38.
“This month, we removed a network of accounts and pages in Uganda that engaged in CIB (Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour) to target public debate ahead of the election,” Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, said in an email.
“They used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular that they were.”
Anim-Addo said the network was linked to the government ministry of information and communications technology.
“Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network.”
Museveni’s senior press secretary Don Wanyama, who saw both his Facebook and Instagram account shut down, accused the company of seeking to influence the election.
“Shame on the foreign forces that think they can aid and plant a puppet leadership on Uganda by disabling online accounts of (ruling party) NRM supporters,” he said on Twitter.
Museveni’s online account is still active but many government officials and members of the ruling party have seen their pages taken down, including a well-known blogger and Museveni supporter, a prominent doctor and a senior official in the information ministry.
The president has long accused foreign organisations and elements of backing Bobi Wine in a bid to remove his government.