Twitter and facebook services have been suspended by major telecoms in the country.
Internet subscribers of UTL, Warid, MTN - some of the major ISPs (internet service providers) - are greeted by the “server not found” error message on trying to access these particular social media URLs (web pages).
A Warid telecom official at the call centre denied knowledge of such a move, saying the problem could perhaps be with facebook itself.
“Our internet is working just fine and we don’t have any problems”, she said.
But the social media services availability via the Orange service deflates her argument.
In fact, when a Warid engineer was asked why they are denying their clients this particular service while other web pages are accessible, he said:
“No, no, it is not us; it seems it is the government that has blocked the service. Even us we are crying like you”.
However, the telecommunications regulatory body, UCC (Uganda Communications Commission) has denied it is behind the social media outage. UCC’s public relations officer, Isaac Kalembe, said:
“We have not instructed anyone to block any social network,” before adding: “Maybe it’s the ministry of ICT.”
If, as suspected, government is behind the move, it will be the second time in a few months that it has forced ISPs and telecoms to deny its citizens access to social media to reduce micro-blogging that it believes incites the population, especially as the “walk to work” protests pick momentum and even spread to Jinja, Masaka, Gulu and other upcountry areas.
Earlier in February this year, the government asked the telecoms to block and regulate the use of some keywords such as “bullet”, “Mubarak”, “Ben Ali” in the SMS services.
This was at the height of the North African protests that ousted both the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents.
Meanwhile Daily Monitor reported yesterday that government has blocked live radio and television broadcasts of the “walk to work” protests.