Tanzanian Internet Governance Group warns against shutdown of 'X' platform

The Internet Governance Tanzania Working Group (IGTWG) opposes the proposed shutdown of the 'X' social media platform in Tanzania. Picture: Andre Penner

The Internet Governance Tanzania Working Group (IGTWG) opposes the proposed shutdown of the 'X' social media platform in Tanzania. Picture: Andre Penner

Published Jul 4, 2024


The Internet Governance Tanzania Working Group (IGTWG) is challenging the recent proposals by supporters of the country’s ruling party to ban the social media platform "X" (formerly Twitter) in Tanzania. The group argues that such a move would impede freedom of expression and hinder access to crucial information.

During a press conference on June 11, led by Mohamed Ali Kawaida, chairperson of the youth wing of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM), calls were made to shut down the platform. The call was also supported by religious leaders who support CCM.

Kawaida stated: "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."

However, the Internet Governance Tanzania Working Group (IGTWG) has issued a strong statement opposing these calls, citing a lack of substantial evidence and the potential infringement on freedom of expression. The group argues that the accusations against the platform are based on weak and unsubstantiated claims, particularly the allegations of promoting pornography and homosexuality.

The Minister of Information, Communication, and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye, assured the public that the government recognised the platform's role in fostering informed societal dialogue and would ensure user safety without compromising access to digital spaces.

In their detailed response, the IGTWG highlighted that "X" plays a minimal role in the spread of objectionable content compared to other platforms and contributes positively to societal discussions.

"The majority of content on 'X' revolves around important social, economic, and political issues, which are essential for informed public discourse," the group stated in the release.

The group also warns that such a ban could set a dangerous precedent for future censorship and urged the government to seek alternative solutions that address concerns without resorting to drastic measures like a shutdown.

The statement calls for a balanced approach to internet governance that respects both cultural values and fundamental rights, emphasising that open dialogue and digital literacy are key to navigating the challenges posed by digital content. The IGTWG remains committed to advocating for the rights of all Tanzanian netizens in maintaining a free and inclusive digital ecosystem, it said.

The government's decision is still pending, and it remains to be seen how Tanzania will balance these complex issues of internet governance, cultural values, and the fundamental rights of its citizens.