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Manipulating media in Uganda

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford
2021-01-15

Waiting for the results of yesterday’s general election in Uganda isn’t exactly a nail-biting affair – no sensible bookie would be taking bets on the outcome – for outsiders and fans of democracy there has to be mixed emotions. Museveni’s crackdown on opposition parties and their leaders, independent journalists and social media have been brutal. On the other hand, whatever happens over the weekend, thanks to a combination of excellent reporting and the high profile of opposition leader Bobi Wine, no-one is in any doubt any more about the nature of the current regime and when the analysis comes out, I doubt there will have been an Ugandan election which garnered such coverage globally in memory*.

When it comes to social media, the government has a particularly dubious track record of shutting down the internet and taxing Twitter to silence opposition, but that hasn’t stopped it from doing its own thing. DFRLab has taken at how it spreads disinformation through dodgy news sites, Twitter, Facebook and “influencers” here. Check it out to see the accounts to avoid.

*This may be wildly optimistic of course. Google Trends suggests that global interest in Uganda – and Bobi Wine in particular – is on the up.

But perhaps it’s too much to ask that certain regions aren’t as enthusiastic for more information. The United States, for example:

And the UK…

Plus ca change and all that.

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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