Lesotho government explores Facebook, Twitter closure
The Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho Chapter (MISA Lesotho) has learned with great concern of the Lesotho Communications Authority’s (LCA) request to network operators, Vodacom Lesotho and Econet Telecom Lesotho, to “provide a position on the possible temporary closure of Facebook and Twitter”.
MISA Lesotho has also learned that LCA has acknowledged presenting such a request to the two (2) companies. While we have learned that there is no decision made regarding closure of either Facebook or Twitter, the position of MISA Lesotho in this regard is that, Facebook and Twitter are important platforms that have added value in access to information, which is vital in sustenance of democracy and protection of human rights.
A move to close down Facebook, Twitter or any other social network, whether temporarily or permanently, is a regression in the development of our country, and it undermines democratic gains that Lesotho has attained to date. The closure will negatively affect freedom of expression, civic engagement and participation in the political and socio-economic advancement of Lesotho.
Facebook, Twitter and social media in general have evident positive changes in the political, social and economic emancipation of individual citizen, civic groups, cooperate sector, as well as the government of Lesotho. Furthermore, according to studies on the use of social media, academic research has consistently found that people who consume more news on social media have a greater probability of being civiclally and politically engaged across a variety of measures.
While we acknowledge that, if not regulated, social media platforms can be detrimental to safety and security of the country and its citizens, we strongly disagree with the closure of Facebook and Twitter in Lesotho.
MISA Lesotho, instead, recommends to the government of Lesotho to work towards providing an environment that prohibits use of social media to violate people’s rights such as freedom of expression, association, safety, order, morality and health in terms of Lesotho’s constitution and other international apparatus that our state is party to.
We also recommend to the government of Lesotho to take advantage of SADC Commission of Inquiry recommended legal reforms to work towards a regulatory regime for information and media in Lesotho. In our view, Facebook and Twitter are some of important platforms that can be used to enable solicitation of people’s views to help inform development of laws that protect rights and freedoms of the people of Lesotho.
Therefore, MISA Lesotho appeals to LCA and government ministry concerned to refrain from closing Facebook and Twitter. This is the time when the world is advancing into an open society where social media has proven to be an easy tool for access to information which has greatly contributed positively to human development globally.
May God bless and protect the people of Lesotho and their beautiful country.
For engagement with MISA Lesotho on this statement please contact us on:
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About MISA Lesotho
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.