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Political Heat on X (Twitter) Forces Ruling Party Supporters to Call for App Ban in Tanzania, Citing Pornography

The recent campaign against X in Tanzania comes amid increasing political activism on the platform

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In what appears to be a coordinated campaign, supporters of Tanzania’s ruling party have called for the banning of X, formerly known as Twitter, from the country. The calls were made during two press conferences on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, the first press was led by the youth wing of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

“All platforms that distribute pornography have been banned in the country. It’s now time for our government to ban this platform as its content goes against our customs and tradition,” said Mohamed Ali Kawaida, Chairperson of the CCM youth wing.

Kawaida suggested that the platform’s rebranding from Twitter to X was a warning sign, claiming, “This platform was previously called Twitter but they have changed it to X. If you look at all those pornographic videos, the youth refers them as X. They are psychologically preparing us to see this term X as normal.”

X has become a crucial platform for political dialogue and activism in Tanzania. Many activists use it to criticize the government, and the presence of diaspora activists has intensified its role in political discourse. The platform’s influence has even prompted the government to alter its stance on various issues, earning it the nickname “Twitter Republic” among Tanzanians.

READ MORE: Is Twitter Replacing Street Protests in Tanzania?

Religious leaders, who are known supporters of the ruling party, also joined the call for the ban. Dr. Sule Seif, a Muslim cleric from Dar es Salaam, stated, “There are Western countries that have allowed certain social networks to promote homosexuality and same-sex relationships. Among these networks that deeply promote this issue is network X, formerly known as Twitter.” He emphasized, “Anything that does not align with the culture of Tanzanians should not be ignored or allowed in our country.”

During the press conference, Methodist Church Bishop and Secretary Allen Siso mistakenly referred to X as “Sex,” condemning the platform for allegedly promoting homosexuality and other activities he claimed would ruin the nation. “This platform, Twitter, or Sex should be stopped, or else they are going to destroy the country,” he said.

Another Muslim cleric, Sheikh Hilal Yusuph, also emphasized the need to ban X, saying, “We are asking the government to look deeply into this matter and help us ban Twitter from continuing to operate because it is going to destroy our children.”

The recent campaign against X comes amid increasing political activism on the platform. Activists frequently criticize government decisions, particularly regarding natural resource use and contracts. U.S.-based activist Mange Kimambi, known for her harsh and sometimes abusive language, has migrated her activism to X after Instagram suspended her account.

READ MORE : Monday Is Here: Will Makonda Stay True to His Word by Naming Ministers Who Allegedly Pay People to Insult the President?

Several X users have responded to the campaign. Asha D. Abinallah, CEO of Tech & Media Convergency (TMC), an ICT consultancy firm in Dar es Salaam, described the campaign as “very surprising.” In an X post, she said, “One can never fully control the Internet. I am not certain what would be the end game of those advising to ban a network like X.” She added, “It is clear that the advisors have not assessed its repercussions if the government indeed does what they desire.”

Opposition activist Freddie Justine argued that “the campaign against X has united people on social media.”

Media presenter Babbie Kabae questioned the basis of the campaign, asking, “Where exactly are these pornographic pictures here? What are those kids who are getting corrupted doing here? Do you mean to say kids are not getting corrupted on TikTok and get corrupted on Twitter instead?”

While many users on X have not supported the campaign, the campaign itself is not a surprise as its planning was leaked leaked yesterday by activists on the platform, who associate it with pro-government supporters seeking to curb political dissent amid growing political heat.

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