Taxing Social Media

One of the many joys of the internet include sharing unpopular opinions. However, in some parts of the world, it can be rather dangerous.

The most recent nation that seems as though free speech online is not a given anymore is Uganda.  The government has recently passed a law that taxes 200 Uganada shilling (approximately 5 cents) on those who use Facebook and whatsapp.

They are also now demanding a 1 percent fee be paid for each mobile money transfer, since e-commerce is growing quickly within the continent.

The President, Yoweri Musevni has aimed to back up his actions by saying that they needs to raise funds in order to assist the government in dealing with the consequences of gossip, spreading opinions, insults and rumors.  In their language, it’s referred to as lugambo.

The Ugandan government has been criticized by man for limiting free speech of their people.  A mere 40 percent of Uganda’s population use the internet, and many of them use Facebook and Whatsapp.  This additional cost will surely keep many more away from the internet.

They are already known for not being very tolerant of free speech online and many critics have been jailed for ‘insulting’the president online.  Social media is commonly used in other countries to organize rallies and bring voices together. With this being said, it seems as though it is an attempt to silence the people.

There’s also no guarantee of course that the government will put the money where they say they intend to.  As seen throughout history, taking away popular platforms has never really worked.