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West African country bans Facebook to silence protest

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At the behest of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the government of the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea has blocked access to Facebook and to a number of opposition websites in advance of the country’s presidential elections, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The crackdown began Sunday and the “targets include the site of the main opposition party, Convergence For Social Democracy (CPDS), which is fielding candidates for the 26 May parliamentary and municipal elections,” as well as the globally popular social network.

“Facebook has been deactivated throughout Equatorial Guinea at the request of the president’s office and the government” following announcement of a demonstration by students and government opponents for May 15, according to Agence France-Presse correspondent Samuel Obiang Mbana.

In the capital, Malabo, Internet cafe owners have reported a fall-off in customers due to the blocking.

President Obiang was listed on Reporters Without Borders list of Predators of Freedom of Information, published in May, “while Equatorial Guinea is ranked 166th out of 179 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index,” the organization noted.

Selective blocking of those elements of the social Web most popular in a given country, especially among opposition politicians and their supporters, has become part of the standard toolkit of oppression for governmental groups seeking to limit change.

H/T RSF | Photo of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his wife, First Lady Constancia Mangue de Obiang in 2009 via Wikipedia