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Banning Social Media

A number of countries in Africa ban social media – or shut down the internet altogether – in order to prevent “unrest”. This is often during national elections, although in 2021 Twitter was banned in Nigeria for 9 months after a spate with the President. The latest banning is in Ethiopia where Amnesty International has called on the authorities to lift immediately restrictions on several social media networks, including Facebook, Messenger, TikTok, Telegram and YouTube. It is not a complete internet shutdown. No official reason has been given for blocking, though it happened following a split in the popular Orthodox Church, which raised tensions in the country. At the time each side had planned rival rallies as a show of strength – but the demonstrations were banned and the stand-off appears to have eased since then. Social media content creators in Ethiopia have complained that traffic is down, though some people have been using virtual private network (VPN) software to access the sites. Demand for VPNs in Ethiopia over the last month peaked at one point by 3,651%, according to London-based VPN research firm TOP10VPN

Alastair Tempest

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