Zambia ‘restricts’ WhatsApp, Twitter for general elections

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As social media platforms face greater scrutiny in several countries, including in India, Zambia has restricted the use of WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger on the general election day on Friday.

Several users from the country took to Twitter informing that WhatsApp has been restricted amid the ongoing general elections today.

Internet monitoring firm Netblocks tweeted that Zambia has restricted access to various social messaging platforms.

“Warning sign Update: 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,” the organization posted.

“WhatsApp messaging app restricted in #Zambia on election day; real-time network data show loss of service on multiple internet providers as polls get underway, corroborating widespread user reports,” it added.

The Zambian government, however, denied the reports, calling them “malicious.”

“The government expects citizens to use the Internet responsibly. But if some people choose to abuse the internet to mislead and misinform, the government will not hesitate to invoke relevant legal provisions to forestall any breakdown of law and order as the country passes through the election period,” Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary, Amos Malupenga was quoted as saying in reports.

Several African nations like Cameroon, Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Guinea, Togo, Benin, Mali, and Mauritania have faced social media restrictions and Internet shutdowns during elections in the past.

Earlier this month, Zambian President Edgar Lungu allowed the deployment of the army and other forces in an effort to help the police in containing violence that has marred the run-up to the general elections.

The Zambian leader expressed sadness that people have been killed for exercising their democratic rights and urged political party supporters to exercise maximum restraint.

Two supporters of the governing Patriotic Front (PF) died in Kanyama township in Lusaka following clashes with supporters of the country’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), on July 31.

Supporters of the two parties have engaged in violence as they campaign for the general elections, forcing the electoral body, to suspend their campaigns at one time.

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