Tanzania’s government has launched a crackdown on social media posts that it perceives as ‘inciteful’ and ‘misleading’ on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, as per Citizen.
Citizen Digital saw a poster that urged the country’s citizens to report such posts to the TCRA (Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority) when they see in their WhatsApp groups or any other social platforms.
“Ukipokea au ukiona ujumbe unaochocha, kuzusha au kupotosha taarifa za corona katika group lako au lolote lingine mtandanoni, piga picha ujumbe huo na namba ya aliyetuma na utume TCRA…,”
“When you receive information that incites or is misleading regarding COVID-19 in your groups or any other social media platform, take a photo and send the information to the TCRA.”
This information comes after Tanzania’s President, John Maghufuli, declared Tanzania COVID-19 free on June 2020. They also stopped releasing daily updates on the state of the pandemic in the country way back in April.
According to DataReportal, there are 14.7 million Internet users in Tanzania as of January 2020 of which 4.5 million are social media users. That is a starkly low penetration rate of a country that has over 56 million people according to World Bank’s 2018 data.
Tanzania is not new to muzzling information being shared on social media. In 2018, they signed in to law regulations that govern social media use and blogging. We have also seen reports of people being arrested of their actions on social media, like this Tanzanian comedian who face swapped with the President’s face on Snapchat. They have also done interesting things like wanting to register Airbnb hosts and limiting SIM card ownership to one per network.