Facebook has condemned the long internet shutdowns and social media blackouts experienced in Tanzania, Chad, Ethiopia and Uganda between January 2020 and February 2021, terming them counterintuitive and a violation of human rights in the digital age.
The social media giant’s East Africa Spokesperson Janet Kemboi decried how internet blackouts in Africa have disrupted access to services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, hurting democracy in the process and contravening freedom of speech and expression.
“We strongly oppose shutdowns, throttling, and other disruptions of the internet. We are deeply concerned by the trend towards this approach in some African countries. Even temporary disruptions of internet services have tremendous, negative human rights, economic and social consequences,” Ms Kemboi told the Nation.
The United Nations recognises access to the internet as an enabler of a broad range of human rights – from freedom of expression, to freedom of information, the right to assembly and association, the right to access health care and the right to an adequate standard of living through economic activity.