Uganda Disinformation Profile

From ADTAC Disinformation Inventory

Uganda Media Environment

According to the world bank as of 2017 roughly 24% of people in Uganda used the internet, additionally Facebook was the most popular news site.[1][2] Uganda has a vibrant media environment with mostly private owned TV and radio stations.[3] Uganda is ranked 125 out of 180 in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, as despite the fact that the constitution guaranteed free media, the penal code is still used to target journalists.[4][5]

Pro-Museveni Influence Operation

A DFRlab investigation discovered a network of PR firms, news organizations, inauthentic social media accounts, influencers, as well as politicians and political aspirants with a coordinated campaign to promote President Yoweri Museveni’s bid for re-election on January 14 2021. In response Facebook removed 32 pages, 220 user accounts, 59 groups, and 139 Instagram profiles. Twitter three days later removed a group of accounts corresponding to those removed by Facebook.

The primary accounts were the false website the Kampala Times and the PR firms Robusto Communications and White Bear Communications. The journalist Dickens H Okello was also suspended Facebook found that the network was linked to the Government Citizens Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda (GCIC). The DFRlab identified five GCIC members whose accounts were removed.

In response to Facebook taking down these accounts supporters of Museveni responded angrily. The Ugandan government then shut down social media on January 12. There was an internet black for over 100 hours leading up to the January 14th elections.[6][7][8]

Ugandan Elections 2021 Black Box Analysis.jpg
  8. Knight, T. (2021). Social media disinformation campaign targets Ugandan presidential election. Black Boxing.