Conforming to the ongoing presidential election in Zambia, the digital rights organization and internet monitors such as the NetBlocks and Access Now have reportedly confirmed the restricted access of social media including Facebook and its subsidiaries, Twitter, etc. This aims to curb the viral spread of misinformation without disrupting the Zambia election.
Aside from Zambian citizens who use the internet as a social ground to disseminate information, several other state-owned internet providers and other private networks, are not contented with the internet restrictions.
As the general election continues, citizens of Zambia are solely concerned about communicating about the progress of the election via the internet which is likely to make inaccurate information spread viral.
The idea to temporarily shut down the internet and other social media was introduced by the officials from Zambia’s Ministry of Information and Broadcast Services. This agency understands the fact that the internet and social media can influence the progress of the election to go sideways.
The initiative to restrict internet access and other social media platforms was approved by the Zambian government to temporarily shut down Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. It is worth noting that WhatsApp was the first social media to get blocked prior to the general election in Zambia — then other social networks joined the restricted club.
“Real-time network data confirm that social media and messaging platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger are now restricted in #Zambia on election day in addition to the earlier WhatsApp restriction #ZambiaDecides2021,” per NetBlocks tweet.
The Zambian presidential election has reportedly attracted violence promoting the security crackdown by the current government whereby Hakainde Hichilema represents the opposition party to overthrow the incumbent President, Edgar Lungu.
As expected, voters would have used social media to broadcast information once voters’ security happens to glitches. Aside from voters’ security, other election-related topics are expected to be discussed by voters and trends as well via the internet such as election fraud and other instances that could mar a smooth presidential election in Zambia.
Since they are no social media networks available for now in Zambia due to the presidential election, several citizens have reportedly used VPNs to disseminate information about the election. Remember, Nigeria experienced the same scenario when the government banned Twitter and Nigerians could still communicate supporting their internet connectivity with VPNs.
Meanwhile, the affected social network is yet to comment about Zambia’s impromptu restrictions.