Social Media giant Facebook has come out to explain why they suspended and deleted accounts of a number of government officials and a number of NRM leaning micro-bloggers.
Accounts of top NRM supporters including Entertainment and gossip blogger Ashburg Kato, Olaxes Isma, Full Fugure among others were deleted last week.
Facebook’s head of communication for Sub Saharan Africa Kezia Anim-Addo said the suspended engaged in Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour to target public debate ahead of this week’s general election.
“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,” she said.
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.”
President 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.
“You won’t take away President Kaguta Museveni” he added, using the president’s second name.
Museveni’s online account is still active but many government officials and members of the ruling party have seen their pages taken down.
The president has long accused foreign organisations and elements of backing Wine in a bid to undermine government.
Anim-Addo said over 100 such networks seeking to manipulate public debate have been removed worldwide since 2017.
In December, networks managed from Russia and France — one linked to the French army — were deleted over accusations of interference operations in Africa.
And in October Facebook shut down the page of a conspiracy-fuelled political party in New Zealand accused of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus ahead of elections there.
Social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others have come under increasing scrutiny over the content they allow to spread on their networks.
They notably blocked US President Donald Trump after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol last Wednesday.