Why Ghana is considering shutting down social media during the country’s general election this year

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Media practitioners and some opposition political parties in Ghana have predicted that they would be chaos, should the Ghana Police Service shut down social media operations during the country’s general elections on November 7, 2016. The debates and arguments which are still ongoing in the country was triggered when the Ghana Police Service has said it is considering shutting down social media services in the country on November 7, the day of the country’s general elections.

According to the Inspector General of Police, John Kudalor, the abuse of social media platforms by all political parties and ordinary Ghanaians has often created unnecessary tension in the country.

He believes that given the strain that preparations towards the elections have put on the country’s security apparatus, it would be unwise to ignore the potential of social media as an incendiary point for violence.

“At one stage I said that if it becomes critical on the eve and also on the Election Day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done. We’re thinking about it,” John Kudalor said.
However, some social media practitioners and human right advocates have described the idea as an affront to Ghana’s constitution and freedom of speech and expression.
But Mr. John Kudalor said the police were following the example set by other countries and said the move would enable them to counter the actions of potential ‘troublemakers’ who might compromise security operations during the elections.

In February, the Ugandan government shut down social media in the country in what President Yoweri Museveni called a “security measure to avert lies” as he was re-elected for a fifth term in office.

This was repeated when he was sworn into office in May, with many human rights activists’ advocates accusing the government of suppressing free speech.