DRC: Block on social media images an appalling attack on freedom of expression
In response to a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government order to block the sharing of images on social media websites, Amnesty International’s DRC researcher Jean-Mobert Senga said:
“The order for internet companies to take ‘technical measures’ to limit social media use is an appalling attack on everyone’s right to share and receive information.
“Most worryingly, it comes amid a worsening political crisis where the risk of human rights violations and abuses – and therefore the importance of social media as a documentation tool - is high.
“This move is the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression in the DRC, including the closure of several media outlets and the harassment of Congolese and international journalists.
“This unacceptable measure must be repealed immediately and people must be allowed full access to the internet and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp.”
On 7 August, the president of the DRC telecommunications authority sent a letter to telecoms companies that provide internet services in the country.
It read: “To prevent abusive sharing of images through social media between clients of your network, I ask you to take the necessary technical measures to restrict the capacity to transfer images to the bare minimum.”
The order came ahead of a two-day nationwide general strike called by the main opposition party, which is demanding the publication of the electoral calendar.
The government order followed a day of violence in several neighborhoods in the capital Kinshasa, as well as in the central cities of Matadi and Boma, images of which were shared widely on social media.