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UPDATED: Facebook and Twitter Accused Of Taking Sides And Trying To Influence Uganda's Election [VIDEO]

Facebook has shut down accounts it says are linked to the Ugandan government, only days before elections for a new president and parliament. The social media giant said a network connected with the ministry of information had been using fake and duplicate accounts to impersonate users and boost the popularity of posts.

In a BBC interview, the government accused Facebook of being biased. The run-up to the election has been marred by tension and violence.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Tuesday that his government has shut down social media ahead of a tense election on Thursday, accusing Facebook and unnamed outside groups of “arrogance” after the social network this week removed Ugandan accounts linked to his reelection campaign.

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“That social channel you are talking about, if it is going to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who wants to use it,” Museveni said of Facebook in a national address. “If you want to take sides against the (ruling party), then that group will not operate in Uganda.”

Museveni, dressed in a military jacket, said he was “sure the government has closed social media” and apologized to Ugandans for what he called an inconvenience.

The hypocrisy of big tech was on show in Uganda.  Last week Twitter banned the President of the United States.

This week Twitter stood up for free speech and the open Internet, arguing that “Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections.”

Twitter also specifically opposed the blocking of “social media and messaging apps.”

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The BBC reports,

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo hit back in a BBC Facebook Live interview, accusing Facebook of failing to adhere to “natural justice” and echoing suggestions by other government figures that the social network is trying to influence the election outcome.

“We are not familiar with anybody who complains about these accounts,” he said. “The owners have not received any notice and no-one was asked to make any response to the allegations.”

Mr Opondo described Facebook as high-handed. “I think they are playing the usual games,” he added. “We know that they have a side in this election perhaps.”

Many Ugandans said Tuesday that Facebook and WhatsApp were not working. Twitter also appears to have been affected.

There are fears the internet will be shut down on polling day.

“This is unfortunate but it is unavoidable. There is no way anybody can come around and play with our country, to decide who is good, who is bad. We cannot accept that,” Museveni said, adding that he “cannot tolerate this arrogance.”

Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, has alleged repeatedly that foreign groups are trying to meddle in Uganda’s election, without providing evidence. He has accused his main challenger, the popular singer and opposition lawmaker known as Bobi Wine, of being “an agent of foreign interests.” Wine denies this.

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