Facebook has shut down accounts belonging to officials in Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s government for trying to manipulate public debate ahead of the Tursday presidential election.
President Yoweri Museveni, 76, will on Thursday face off with 38-year-old musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine in the presidential and parliamentary polls following bloody campaigns.
"This month, we removed a network of accounts and pages in Uganda that engaged in CIB (Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour) to target public debate ahead of the election," said Facebook head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo in a mail.
"They used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people's content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular that they were," added Anim-Addo.
She linked the network to Uganda’s ministry of information and communications technology.
"Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network."
However, Museveni's senior press secretary Don Wanyama, whose Facebook and Instagram accounts were blocked, accused Facebook of attempting to influence the crucial election.
"Shame on the foreign forces that think they can aid and plant a puppet leadership on Uganda by disabling online accounts of NRM supporters. You won’t take away President Kaguta Museveni," Wanyama said on Twitter.
Museveni's social media accounts survived the purge even as pages of many state officials and members of his ruling NRM party were taken down.
The Ugandan Head of State has in the past accused foreign forces of supporting Wine to remove him from power
According to Anim-Addo, more than 100 such networks that seek to influence public debate have been shut down globally since 2017, including those operating in Russia and France.
The Mark Zuckerberg-owned tech giant last week blocked US President Donald Trump after his supporters invaded the US Capitol building, the symbol of American democracy, on Wednesday.
The social media giant, its baby Instagram and Twitter have been clamping down on accounts that spread of fake news and inciting content in the recent past following wide criticism.