Is Open Access To Twitter The Benchmark With Which To Measure Democracy?

The independent monthly news publication Dispatch is reporting on rumours that the Ugandan government has moved to shut down internet access within the country to Twitter and Facebook, but not all ISPs are complying.

If true, then Uganda is the latest in a growing line of countries that have attempted to block access to Twitter, including Egypt, China, Cameroon, Tunisia and Vietnam. These shutdowns have often been short-lived and futile, but one thing remains true – a free country must include free and unrestricted access to social media.

Uganda is currently dealing with protests against high food and fuel prices. Last week Kizza Besigye, the leader of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change, was amongst 49 people injured during a “walk to work” protest. Besigye was arrested earlier today.

“Besigye has been arrested on the road as he walked with other people toward town. He is being held at Kasangati police station,” said a spokesperson for the Ugandan police.

While these reports are still unconfirmed by the Ugandan authorities, many users are reporting that the ISP Uganda Telecom has already blocked access to Twitter and Facebook.

Meanwhile, MTN Uganda, the country’s largest ISP, has announced via its @mtnugandacare account that it has no plans to comply.

As Twitter expands and begins to attract users from all around the world, its ‘ripple effect’ – the ease with which the message of a single user can reach everybody on the network through retweets and sharing – has become a powerful weapon for change.

No longer can they so readily quiet the source or behave in a manner that is criminally or ethically unjust. Because if they do, somebody is always there to report it. Thanks to open networks like Twitter, every one of us is a potential whistle-blower. Every one of us is a journalist. Every one of could be the source. And every one of us is now connected to everybody else.

True freedom inevitably leads to a loss of control. No wonder the politically bankrupt are so blatantly terrified.

Publish date: April 18, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT