According to Datareportal, more than half the world’s population now uses social media. That’s about 4.62 billion people or 58.4%, and this number is growing every day. Social media’s immense popularity makes sense. Through services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok, we’re able to keep up with old friends, make new like-minded connections, and see what’s going on in the world.
Social media has become so ingrained in our daily lives that we take it for granted. We’re free to access so much open information and communicate so broadly. To oppressive governments, though, these aspects are exactly what make social media dangerous.
People in free nations often can’t wrap their minds around the fact that social media bans are a common occurrence. Many governments worldwide strictly monitor and censor their citizens’ media and internet access.
What countries block social media and how do they manage it? Let’s explore how authoritarian nations in the world handle different social media platforms today.
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Social Media’s Role in Society Today
The average person spends around 2 hours on social media every day. Imagine for a moment if your socials were suddenly taken away. It wouldn’t just affect your entertainment options. It would strip away your right to free speech and your ability to communicate in chaotic times. On a national scale, that could isolate an entire population and threaten their lives.
That’s precisely what some governments worldwide are looking to do, which is why they ban social media services within their borders.
Social media platforms provide entertainment, but they’re also an important tool for free speech and sharing information. On the other hand, social media also comes with a few downsides. Let’s quickly break down the pros and cons of social media:
|Pros of Social Media||Cons of Social Media|
|👍 Opens communication channels across the world.||👎 Causes procrastination.|
|👍 Increases visibility of important news from multiple sources (not just government-controlled sources).||👎 Can be addictive.|
|👍 Brings prominence to urgent social causes.||👎 Can exacerbate mental health issues.|
|👍 Creates a way for people to organize events.||👎 Causes unrealistic views of the world.|
|👍 Provides opportunities for people to educate themselves and learn from each other.||👎 Can be used to spread false news and propaganda.|
|👍 Gives families and friends a way to stay connected.||👎 Intensifies political conflicts and polarization.|
|👍 Enables freedom of speech and press freedom.||👎 Can increase feelings of loneliness.|
No matter your views on social media, it’s clear these platforms play a pivotal role in modern society. Censorship in the form of parental controls helps protect children, but governmental control can only bring about disaster.
Governments that ban access to social media generally also apply other forms of social censorship to control the prevailing narrative. That prevents people from learning the truth, speaking their minds, and fighting against oppression. We can even say it’s a form of human rights violation.
Social Censorship Has Been Increasing over the Years
Back in the MySpace days (remember that time?), no one was particularly worried about social media’s greater impact. At the dawn of social media, we were slightly uninitiated.
TToday, we know that social media has started revolutions (more on that later), changed some elections’ trajectory, and even influenced the pandemic. Social media has become more entwined in the way we work, access information, and communicate. That has led to increased scrutiny from governments worldwide.
Governments That Like Control Are Panicking
You probably know how deeply entrenched government spying has become with social media. Especially with the NSA bombshell that Edward Snowden dropped in 2013.
After the Snowden revelations, digital privacy quickly became a hot topic. New encrypted messaging platforms, like Telegram, started popping up. These aimed to provide secure communication without spying or censorship, a type of service that fits the public’s newly cemented distrust of governments.
Telegram uses an ultra-secure messaging-encryption protocol called MTPronto. That makes it one of the most secure and private communication methods ever. Since then, many countries have renounced the service. Pakistan, Iran, China, and various countries also banned it entirely, citing national security implications.
Russia blocked access to Telegram in 2018. That’s because Telegram refused to give the Federal Security Service backdoor access to its encryption keys. The Russian government then took its war against Telegram a step further: it banned all VPN services that continued to provide access to it.
Governments shouldn’t decide what people can and can’t see online. The web was initially a place that opened up communication and information sharing to everyone. We still strongly believe in that vision. That’s why we use secure 256-AES encryption with a strict No-Logs policy. That way, we protect our Ghosties’ privacy and help them overcome censorship.
Social Pressure Is Fueling Censorship
Social media censorship isn’t just limited to governments. These days, the companies that own social media websites are under pressure to regulate the content and users on their platforms. High-profile cases hit the headlines.
You may remember what happened with Trump’s Twitter ban and Alex Jones’ ban from Facebook, YouTube, and Apple. Social media bans are much more common than that. Platforms routinely delete posts and comments that they deem objectionable.
Many people debate the arguments for and against online censorship, often around the topic of free speech. Some experts argue that private companies aren’t beholden to free speech laws. That’s why they believe these companies can regulate content on their platforms. Others feel that social media companies have too much power in shaping the world’s narrative. They say these platforms need to be more transparent in their practices.
The world certainly needs to take action against misinformation and fake news. That said, we Ghosties firmly believe in a free and open internet. Censorship and VPNs don’t go together.
How Does a Country Block All Social Media?
We live in a wireless world, so how can countries block certain websites? Most oppressive nations use a few different methods to block social media and any websites that criticize the national governmental regime or religion. We’ll take a look at 2 methods for blocking sites.
1. Blocking Through ISP
The simplest way to block a website for an entire country is to make the internet service providers within that nation block them. That can come in a polite request, or, in some cases, a not-so-veiled strong-arm attempt.
When the internet’s infrastructure is government-owned, it isn’t hard to coerce ISPs into doing the government’s dirty work. That’s the case in many oppressive nations. In Russia, for example, the System of Operational-Investigatory Measures requires telecommunications companies to install “security” programs on their systems. These programs allow the government to spy on user activity without a warrant.
It’s fairly simple to bypass censorship in countries that haven’t banned VPNs. When you use CyberGhost VPN, we run your connection through a secure tunnel to servers in another country. That also hides your IP address and gives you access to foreign social media sites restricted in your country.
Unfortunately, many countries that ban social media also limit VPN use specifically for their abilities to circumvent censorship.
2. Blocking Through ASN
Governments can also block access to social sites through an autonomous system number (ASN).
Each ISP has an ASN assigned to it. If a government wants to block access to a website, it can create an ASN with an IP range that includes the website it wants to block. Routers will then go to the government’s version of that site, not to the actual website. The government essentially fools your router into thinking that a website is hosted in a different place.
It’s a lot easier for governments to block social media access than many people realize. Why, though? What’s the underlying motivation for that extreme reaction?
Why Would a Country Censor Social Media?
Governments that censor social media websites are typically authoritarian regimes. That comes as a big surprise to no one, since most of these nations seek to curb the potential for dissenters. Some governments don’t want anyone to oppose them. That includes anyone from other political parties, detractors, critics, and even the free press.
Religious states also tend to monitor and censor their citizens. In these cases, they’ll also seek to ban anti-religious messages. Censorship silences any voices that rise against the country’s main faith. What’s more, anyone who pushes ideals outside the country’s values may get blocked.
For the most part, religious states didn’t see social media as a huge threat. That all changed after the Arab Spring in 2010.
Between December 2010 and December 2012, the world saw a series of protests organized through social media. Young people rose up in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain. In some cases, the movement even shook or overthrew these nations’ oppressive regimes.
The rest of the world witnessed these events, and many governments panicked. Some immediately cracked down on internet use in their countries, hoping to stop radical ideas from spreading.
Social media sites were the first to go. Instead of calling it what it was — control, power, and self-enrichment — these governments cited religious conflict. They used that polarizing threat to block the information flow. That way, they ensured people couldn’t oppose them.
Are VPNs the Solution to Social Media Bans?
Many people use VPNs to circumvent government bans on social media and other websites. Regimes got wind of that and many of them outright banned VPNs. If you’re in a country that bans VPNs, like China or the UAE, the government can arrest you for downloading and using a VPN.
Why People Turn to VPNs in Oppressive Countries
VPNs are effective at circumventing IP-based censorship methods because they redirect a device’s connection through a remote VPN server. That means the VPN changes your IP address to an IP from the VPN server’s location. At the same time, the VPN also encrypts your connection. That way, no one (not even your ISP or government) can access your online browsing history or data.
Here’s a quick explanation of how VPNs work to protect your online privacy. Let’s take a closer look at the other upsides to using a VPN.
The Benefits of Using a VPN
VPNs are beneficial to anyone who wants to gain more privacy online. The benefits listed below are conditional though. A VPN can’t hide any information you choose to enter into websites. VPNs also can’t protect you against malware or viruses. Your government and ISP will also be able to see you’re using a VPN.
That said, it’s still a good idea to invest in good VPN software. Here are 4 perks you get when you use a VPN:
1. Access to the Unfiltered Web
When your government filters the web, they decide what you can and can’t see. That means they can block access to websites you use regularly, at a moment’s notice. If you work online, that can impact your work, too.
CyberGhost VPN has 7900+ servers across the world, providing access to every website and social media platform on the web. We also have dedicated streaming servers, so you can watch shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and every other major streaming service. You don’t have to abide by the ridiculous limitations your government tries to impose on you.
2. Secure Your Connection Against Interference
Your government can track which websites you visit via your IP address. Your ISP also can see everything you do online and the government can order them to hand over that data at any time. Governments in some countries also have backdoors at ISPs that give them direct access to your browsing history. All these people shouldn’t have free rein over your data!
CyberGhost VPN protects your connection using ultra-secure 256-AES encryption. It scrambles your online data into an indecipherable mess. Your government can’t unscramble your info, so it won’t be able to spy on everything you do. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, what you do online isn’t your government’s business.
3. Live Virtually Outside Regions of Censorship
Some countries force VPNs to provide the government with a backdoor to enable them to access your data. Even non-authoritarian governments do this. Countries like the United States, France, New Zealand, and the Netherlands are part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances. These countries can force VPNs to hand over your data.
That’s one reason why we chose to house our offices in Romania. The Romanian government doesn’t force us to log or hand over any personal information. Romania isn’t in any data-collection alliance, so we’re under no legal obligation to share your info, no matter who asks.
We also have a strict No-Logs policy that ensures we don’t monitor or collect your online behavior. This protects your identity and personal information.
4. Browse Anywhere, However You Want
Getting around internet blocks isn’t very useful if you can only do it on one device. You should be able to visit the websites you want no matter where you go, on any device.
That’s why CyberGhost VPN has dedicated apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux — so you don’t have to choose just one. You can also install CyberGhost VPN on up to 7 devices simultaneously. That way, your entire household is safe, and you don’t have to worry about switching between devices.
The Free Press Uses VPNs to Protect Publishing Rights
When a government decides to apply censorship in a country, local media and journalists are usually the first to take a hit. That’s why many publications and journalists use tools such as VPNs and The Onion Router (Tor) to be able to do their work. Otherwise, they’d completely lose their freedom.
Like regular citizens, the press uses VPNs to access websites normally restricted by the government. VPNs also help them maintain their privacy and remain protected when they browse online or use tools like Tor to access the dark web. Many major publications also use the dark web to publish news without government interference.
VPNs also allow journalists to contact informants and publish their work without fear of retaliation from authorities.
Read these 10 examples of oppressive countries that tightened the reins on social media in the last few years.
10 Countries That Blocked Social Media
According to Statista, at least 71 countries have blocked or restricted access to social media in some way since 2015.
That’s an incredible number of countries controlling what their people can access online. I won’t cover every incident here, as that’d become a massively long list. Instead, I’ve listed the top 10 nations along with their internet freedom scores according to the Internet Freedom Index.
Hint: This isn’t a top 10 list you want your country to be part of!
1. North Korea — Conceal and Control
Currently Blocking: All social media platforms.
North Korea’s Internet Freedom Score: No score (but likely 0).
Where else would this story begin, but with North Korea? The Tiger Woods of Censorship. A life without the internet? That’s almost unimaginable these days, but it’s the reality for people living in North Korea.
A Censored Life
North Korea’s censorship extends far beyond the social media realm. Most of the population can’t use the internet at all, let alone Western social platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Internet access in North Korea is only available to high-ranking government officials, scientists, and elite students. Yet, even these individuals have their activities & access tightly monitored. North Korea’s oversight applies to officials stationed abroad, too. North Korean staff members monitor every internet connection these officials have access to.
Government Control is Absolute
The country aims to control all media, from radio to state-sponsored television, to a government-sanctioned intranet. It also blocks most Western sites and all South Korean sites. According to recent rumors, North Korea may have a social media site for its citizens, but we can’t know for sure.
In 2013, North Korea started allowing foreign visitors to access 3G mobile networks. Visitors can still use the internet and social media, although a 30-second video will take about three hours to load.
Most North Koreans have no real sense of what the internet truly is and what it can do. North Korea also outlaws VPNs, and the penalties for their use remain unclear. While some say violations only warrant a simple fine, others have hinted that citizens are put to death if they’re caught using a VPN.
Defectors have even started smuggling USB devices filled with factual news into the country to counteract Kim Jong-un’s propaganda. Non-profits like Flash Drives For Freedom assist them.
2. China — Watchful Eye to Force Social Unity
Currently blocking: All Western social media platforms, with similar platfoms available locally.
China’s Internet Freedom Score: 10/100 (Not Free).
The communist nation has a long history of social regulation and control. The Great Firewall of China specifically keeps blacklisted websites away from its people’s eyes. This list includes most social media platforms and streaming services.
China Blocks Social Media During Xinjiang Riots
China shut down the “big three” social channels (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) in 2009—more than a year before the Arab Spring. China also bans VPNs, except for the government-controlled ones. That said, using a VPN that logs information for the government defeats the entire purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
The social media blocking coincided with the Xinjiang riots. China’s Muslim minority group, the Uyghurs, began a series of protests that turned into violent attacks. Much like the Arab Spring, these activists used Facebook as part of their communication network.
China Breaks Off From the Regular Internet
After the Chinese government quelled the riots, they sought to silence their citizens further. They blocked all communication methods that allowed citizens to share what happened. Banning social media helps keep China in a metaphorical bubble. It also keeps a lid on all political and national events. In all, it allows the Chinese government to control how the global public sees events in China.
The country has its own national social media site called Weibo, where locals can fraternize under the government’s watchful eyes. Localizing the country’s social media also allowed China to monopolize its burgeoning tech industry. Some social apps, like TikTok, exist in China but with different names and under strict rules.
Interestingly, Facebook is partially unblocked in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone. It’s completely unblocked in Macau and Hong Kong, which operate under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle (for now).
3. Iran — Running for Censorship
Currently blocking: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Discord, Weibo, TikTok, Twitch along with more than five million other websites.
Iran’s Internet Freedom Score: 16/100 (Not Free).
The Iranian Presidential Election of 2009 kicked off a downward online censorship spiral. The existing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was running against three challengers. At the time, his closest rival was CCRF candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Ahmadinejad declared himself the victor with 62% of the tallied votes, despite only about two-thirds of the total votes being cast.
Unsurprisingly, this didn’t sit well with many Iranians. Massive protests numbering millions of participants broke out throughout the country. Again, protesters used social media as a communication tool. In response, the government banned Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to squash any dissenting ideas.
Filtering the Web Through a Government Lens
Iran has since lifted the social media ban for some platforms. Still, the country uses what it calls “smart filtering” to block certain content on the web. That essentially blocks access to sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter. They also censor “objectionable content”. That means they block access to anything that’s against the Islamic faith and the government’s standards.
The government periodically blocks all access during political upheaval periods. For example, they blocked access to Instagram and Telegram in 2017 and 2018 to stop a series of protests. They’ve even gone as far as to block access to the internet completely for certain parts of the country during particularly tumultuous times.
In 2021, Iran proposed a bill to restrict the internet further, including banning Instagram and WhatsApp. The Iranian government blocked many end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms, like Signal, earlier that year.
4. Vietnam — The Great Pretender
Currently blocking: The majority of blocked websites are specific to Vietnam or use Vietnamese. English websites are blocked periodically, but it’s hard to accurately keep track of all blocks..
Vietnam’s Internet Freedom Score: 22/100 (Not Free).
The Vietnamese government pretends they’re okay with social media, but their internet policing says otherwise. It’s so stringent, some people call it the “Bamboo Firewall”. Social media censorship in Vietnam started in 2009, when the government blocked access to Facebook for one week. Though it was never publicly admitted, the intention was to keep citizens from criticizing the government.
Today, Vietnam continues to randomly block social media sites. Still, the government insists that it doesn’t censor social media. Vietnam went on to ban LinkedIn in June of 2016 but access has since been restored. The government attempted to deny the action, but it later came out that their claim was a lie.
A New Law for Online Social Conduct
In 2021, Vietnam introduced a national social media code of conduct. This code prohibits anything that violates “the interests of the state.” It also encourages people to post positive news about the country and government.
Vietnam also blocks some streaming services, including Netflix, HBO, and Hulu. Vietnamese people and tourists can still access these services with a VPN, though.
If you use CyberGhost VPN while in Vietnam, you can use our streaming-optimized servers to get direct access to platforms worldwide. You can also connect to one of our 12 servers in Hanoi to access local content with your privacy intact.
5. Russia — Control the Media to Control the Narrative
Currently blocking: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn are blocked along with thousands of other websites.
Russia’s Internet Freedom Score: 30/100 (Not Free).
Russia applies so much online censorship, I could easily write pages about it, but let’s go with the short version.
Creating the Single Register
During the 2011-13 protests in Russia, the country introduced the “single register”. The Russian government uses this tool to block websites, IP addresses, and domains it classifies as “extremist”. Yet, many seemingly normal websites have also fallen under this classification. In 2019, Russia even introduced a bill that fined people and websites criticizing the government and blocked them.
Making the Iron Curtain with China’s Help
Russia has also worked with Chinese Great Firewall security officials to regulate its website filtering framework. In 2019, the country started building systems to isolate Russia’s internet entirely from the rest of the internet, including mobile networks. Some have referred to this as the “online iron curtain”.
Restricting Censorship Workarounds
In 2017, Russia passed a law to restrict VPN use and limit the privacy people gain via end-to-end encryption. The law also required people using online messaging services to provide a phone number. That eliminates the possibility of sending messages anonymously.
Russia has introduced many internet censorship bills in the last decade. The government claims they’re “preventing hostile influence on the population and weakening cultural values”. In 2021, Russia reportedly restricted access to The Onion Router (Tor) to prevent people from working around these laws.
Escalating Censorship During the Ukraine Invasion
Russia ramped up its efforts even more during the 2022 Ukraine invasion. The government censored sites like Facebook and Twitter and accused these sites of spreading false information about the war.
Russia also quickly implemented a new law requiring tech companies to set up legal entities in-country. The law applies to companies including Google, TikTok, and Meta. That forces those companies to bow to Russian laws and put employees at risk of intimidation and jail time. Russia will block any non-compliant company’s services.
6. Belarus — Stay in Power at all Costs
Currently blocking: Most social media sites are available, but access is sometimes limited and many groups and channels are blocked or illegal to access. People apply self-censorship.
Belarus’ Internet Freedom Score: 31/100 (Not Free).
Belarus has a long and interesting history with censorship, going as far back as early 2006. It was then that Belarusian citizens first became aware of the country’s strict control over the internet.
The Logging and Blocking Approach
Since 2007, the government has required that internet cafes log every person that uses their services and the websites they visit. Another law requires all local and international websites to register with the Information Ministry in Belarus. Otherwise, the country blocks the website. The law has been around since 2009.
ISPs in Belarus have to censor many websites deemed “extremist”. The government partially blocked the internet during the 2020 presidential re-elections. The block continued when protests erupted afterward.
Subscribing to Content is a Crime
In the last few years, Belarus has also blocked news publications and radio stations and, in 2021, Belarus passed a law that makes subscribing to certain social media channels (such as Telegram) a criminal offense.
Now, the country has been an “Internet Enemy” for over a decade and it continues to impede web freedom under the Lukashenko regime.
7. Turkey — Cloak to Continue with Impunity
Currently blocking: No major platforms at the moment, but Turkey regularly bans access to websites and gets posts on social media removed.
Turkey’s Internet Freedom Score: 34/100 (Not Free)
Turkey and Twitter go way back to a vicious feud that kicked off in 2014. Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, banned Twitter because some recordings circulated on the platform incriminated his government in allegations of corruption. He claimed his political enemies undertook this action. His solution? Delete access to the evidence and pretend it didn’t happen!
The Truth in Tweets
Erdogan claimed his enemies were abusing Twitter to undermine his regime. He also went as far as to vow to “wipe out Twitter” during that incident. The ban only lasted two weeks, though Turkey blocked Twitter temporarily again in 2015. This time, Facebook and YouTube shut down, too.
The 2015 incident was an attempt to stop images circulating of Mehmet Selim Kiraz. Kiraz was a state prosecutor held hostage by militants in an Istanbul courthouse. Kiraz died hours after the ban from bullet wounds he received when security forces stormed the courthouse.
Those bans aren’t in place now, but Turkey continues to be a thorn in Twitter’s side. The country has also submitted a large number of tweet removal requests. According to Twitter, Turkey has the third-highest number of removal requests, after Japan and Russia.
Turkey’s Twitchy Blocking Fingers
Turkey isn’t just at war with Twitter, though. The country has also banned YouTube several times since 2007, for as long as 30 months. YouTube responded by blocking many videos to keep the entire site from being banned. Yet, that wasn’t enough. Turkish prosecutors have gone so far as to request that Google block videos on YouTube internationally, but the company didn’t comply.
Turkey has blocked a very long list of websites and domains over the years. Speculatively, we’re talking about more than 150,000 sites. That includes Facebook and WhatsApp (temporarily), Reddit, 4Chan, and Wikipedia.
The country even blocked popular Google and file-sharing tools like GoogleDrive, Google Translate, Google Docs, and Dropbox. Turkey has also blocked several VPNs and even The Onion Router (Tor) in the past.
8. Turkmenistan — Outlawing Criticism
Currently blocking: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Skype, WeChat, Telegram, and most other social media sites.
Turkmenistan’s Internet Freedom Score: 34/100 (Not Free).
The Turkmenistan government tightly controls mass media and social media use. Any criticism against the president or government is also expressly forbidden. Internet access was only opened up to a few citizens of the country in 2008, and it’s still largely restricted and heavily monitored.
Monopolizing the Internet
Most citizens only have access to Turkmenet, a local intranet run by the government. Turkmenet doesn’t provide access to outside social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Apparently, the country has a local social networking system, although I couldn’t confirm its existence.
Interestingly, certain Russian social networks, including Odnoklassniki and Mail Agent Chatting, were accessible at some point. Now, the country bans these networks, too. Turkmenistan got its first (government-sanctioned) messaging app in 2018.
As the state-owned TurkmenTelecom monopolizes internet access, this country is often at the bottom of press and internet freedom lists.
9. Bangladesh — Prevent Dissent by Any Means
Currently blocking: No major platforms are currently blocked, but that can change at any time.
Bangladesh’s Internet Freedom Score: 40/100 (Partly Free).
In 2015, the Bangladesh Supreme Court decided to uphold two convicted war criminals’ death sentences. The resulting public outcry “forced” the government to completely sever internet access for everyone in the country.
When the internet came back, several services remained blocked. The blocked list included social media sites like Facebook and popular messaging apps like WhatsApp. At first, the government said that it was a mistake. Except, that wasn’t true.
The authorities eventually amended their statement, citing safety concerns as the reason for the block. Facebook access was down for more than a month, while the government banned Twitter and several chat apps for a much longer period.
Filtering the Internet the “Smart” Way
In 2019, the Bangladeshi authorities set up a surveillance and filtering program similar to Iran’s “smart filtering” system. That program was under the Cyber Threat Detection and Response initiative. Telemarketing companies in Bangladesh also had to stop services that provided free access to social media.
10. Uganda — The Downtrodden Can’t Complain
Currently blocking: Facebook and Instagram. Uganda also periodically bans other social media sites, especially during elections.
Uganda’s Internet Freedom Score: 49/100 (Partly Free).
This African nation is testing a new fad that political analysts describe as dictatorship light. The sitting president has been in power since 1986, but has just recently started dabbling in social media censorship. Rather than ban these services outright, Uganda is trying to place a tax on social media apps. Yes, you read that correctly.
In 2018, the controversial tax started charging people 200 Ugandan shillings (then-equivalent to USD 0.05) per day to access 60 different mobile apps. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Critics of the tax have accused the Ugandan president of stifling the poorest citizens’ voices, as this tax may be taking away their right to free expression.
Doubling Down on an Absurd Tax
The government claimed it was to discourage the “spread of gossip” and to earn some revenue from the popularity of foreign-controlled apps. The public didn’t receive this proposed tax well, but the Ugandan president continued to defend it. He referred to the use of social media as a luxury item, comparing it to beer, tobacco, and perfume.
Most people in Uganda used VPNs to avoid the social media tax. That’s why the government made changes to the tax, which came into effect on 1 July 2021. They now charge all internet users a 12% tax on top of the existing 18% in VAT charges. That brings internet use charges to a total of 30%. That’s a price too steep to pay for many Ugandan citizens, who live below the poverty line.
Is Social Media a Right?
Several countries have taken extraordinary steps to block their citizens’ access to social media websites. That creates a censored environment, one that’s hidden away from the rest of the world’s scrutiny.
Government control of social media started a bigger discussion around personal freedom. Has social media become a basic human right? Will we see a day where everyone is free to tweet? That’s our expectation and hope and that’s what we’re trying to make possible here at CyberGhost VPN.
When you use CyberGhost VPN, our strong encryption gives you a new level of online privacy and freedom. After installing CyberGhost VPN, you can connect to one of our secure servers to change your IP address and browse the web with enhanced privacy.
Living in a Democratically Free Country? Here’s Why You Should Use a VPN
VPNs are immensely useful to people who can’t otherwise access websites and social media platforms without them. They can still be useful to you, too, even if you don’t live in a country that limits your freedom.
No matter how democratic your country is, your government can still monitor your internet activity. Websites and advertisers use trackers to follow you around the web and digitally profile you, while cybercriminals can still stalk you or target you with Distributed Denial of Service or man-in-the-middle attacks.
When you use CyberGhost VPN, you’re safe from cyberattacks and digital privacy invasions.
CyberGhost VPN uses the strongest form of encryption on the market to prevent outsiders from seeing what you do online. It comes with other perks, too. For one, you can access streaming platforms when abroad and get better deals when shopping online. Either way, you’ll get improved online privacy as advertisers can’t track your IP and profile you.
Governments can block and ban any websites they want, including social media platforms. While many governments refrain from blocking social media to protect freedom of access to information, some countries take online censorship to a new level.
People who live in countries with severe censorship, like China and Russia, often turn to VPNs to get around these bans. CyberGhost VPN restores your access to the entire internet using strong 256-bit AES encryption, so you can tunnel around social media bans.
Several countries across the world have blocked or restricted social media, including China, Russia, Belarus, Iran, and Uganda, to name a few. Some, like North Korea and Turkmenistan, have outright banned all social media platforms (and applied other forms of censorship).
VPNs provide a way for citizens and travelers in these countries to regain access to social media. When you connect to one of CyberGhost VPN’s thousands of servers across the globe, no social network is out of reach!
Social media has revolutionized freedom of speech and access to information and knowledge. The internet has become entwined with how we research, consume news, and talk to each other.
Countries banning social media often don’t want people to access information freely. Tools like CyberGhost VPN provide a way around this. We let people choose what they want to see for themselves. Our 45-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of time to test that out for yourself.
It’s not for us to decide if children should be on social media or not. That’s up to their parents. Many social media platforms have a minimum user age as part of their terms of service.
If you allow your kids on social media, be sure to teach them about privacy. A good start is to protect their devices with antivirus software and use a VPN when browsing the web. CyberGhost VPN is a great option, as you can protect up to 7 devices simultaneously with one subscription.
CyberGhost VPN can give you unrestricted access to any social media platform worldwide. We use ultra-strong encryption that scrambles your data to protect you from government spying and restrictions.
Choose any of our 7700+ secure servers across 91 countries to change your IP address and browse like a local! If you need any more information, get in touch with our 24/7 customer support team.
Leave a comment
Posted on 19/12/2022 at 01:58
Anyone who says social media is addictive has never experienced a REAL addiction.
Posted on 27/12/2022 at 10:35
Hi EightBitRx, plenty of research studies have provided proof of the addictive nature of social media. Like many other types of addictions, it triggers the brain’s reward system to release dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. Addictions come in all shapes and sizes.
Posted on 25/08/2022 at 20:15
Governments, democratic or not, regulate addictive things, be they drugs, gambling, etc.
No doubt social media is addictive. Many people will say “self-responsibility, don’t get addicted,” but if that’s the case, remove all regulations from alcohol, drugs, etc.
On the other hand, regulating social media in any form will likely lead to restriction of information and free speech. It’s a tough call.
Posted on 26/08/2022 at 11:42
You’re correct, social media can be a double-edged sword, Jon. Unfortunately, we see the reasons for these bans are usually motivated by the need to control citizens rather than to protect them.
Posted on 05/08/2022 at 23:33
If Facebook can ban people for no reason, then we should be able to ban facebook.
Posted on 15/08/2022 at 16:18
Hi, Cheryl. Unfortunately, the governing bodies in various countries want to limit their citizens’ access to information and communication. While Facebook has many faults and we don’t recommend using it if you value your privacy, many people use Facebook to stay informed and keep in touch with each other. If you dislike Facebook, we have a guide that you can use to permanently delete your Facebook account: https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/privacyhub/delete-facebook-permanently/
Carl-Jakob Erling Andersen.
Posted on 28/11/2021 at 08:40
I say we ban all social media. Only keep specialized websites like porn sites, gaming sites and such. It is easy as **** to be banned from social media. I was banned multiple times for being politically incorrect. The only safe place is 4chan.
Posted on 02/12/2021 at 10:01
Social media has its pros and cons, Carl-Jakob. An outright ban on social media platforms is a heavy blow to free speech and an open internet. Just make sure to read the terms and conditions as well as the community guidelines.
Posted on 19/07/2021 at 17:13
Yes, Sharing our thoughts and ideas on Social media is a way to connect who have the same mind and it should be our freedom without a doubt. These military related Government tries to take away our freedom to express on social media and just shut off our opinions.
May be social media is harmful to our mind and health sometimes. However, most of the serious cases are dictators banning the social media and it is absolutely unforgivable.
Posted on 20/07/2021 at 08:03
Sadly true, Naing.
Posted on 13/01/2021 at 13:49
Hey, can anyone remember the good old days when there were no social media? Now that I think about it, it was a much happier time and less neurosis around that is seen so much more today brought about by social media.
Posted on 14/01/2021 at 12:52
Social media comes with its own pros and cons, Donovan. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your feed, you might consider taking a break to focus on your mental health.🙂
Posted on 18/12/2020 at 13:14
Social media is the worst thing invented. It’s the only thing invented that has massive negative impact on a large part of society and many countries. Where tv, radio, newspaper, medicine has been positive and made a difference to society. Social media has brought cycber bullying, false and fake information thats completely untrue and destroyed peoples reputation and business. I support banning all social media everywhere and putting nations mental health first.
Posted on 21/12/2020 at 15:07
Everything has its pros and cons, Andrew. Lately, it seems that more and more platform are changing their terms of service to better protect their users from cyberbullying and harassment. Fake news is, unfortunately, on the rise. The best we can do is learn how to recognize false information and report it.
Posted on 29/12/2020 at 17:34
5 thumbs up
Posted on 09/11/2019 at 18:18
I think you need to differ a little bit between only the western social media apps like Facebook Instagram and twitter and just social media in general. I saw u mention a lot about how those countries ban Facebook but that’s only one app you can’t just say there’s no social media simply for the ban of Facebook or Whatsapp. North Korea definitely deserves to be on it but i know for example China basically has its own tech industry completely isolated from ours with any apps that are very similar to ours–except under heavy Government surveillance; you mentioned that Turkey banned twitter but I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to social media than simply twitter. I don’t think you can just say it doesn’t have social media simply for the fact that it is not the apps we use+it is heavily censored.
Posted on 10/06/2020 at 16:44
Hi, Danny! Thanks for your perspective. Indeed, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube are at the heart of Western media and might not be the norm all across the world. But the fact that they are banned in some areas shows that not all countries are willing to let the internet be without borders or give the people the option to choose which platform they’d like to post on.
Tushabe M Michael
Posted on 27/05/2019 at 16:25
This won’t be possible to make social media aright for everyone, these countries are have continued outlaw the use of the social media hence inspiring or motivating other countries throughout the world to do the same. Many leaders across the world have become more greedy for power, presidents don’t want to be incriminated in any capacity. Therefore countries are increasingly banning social media. No social media freedom by 2050.
Posted on 30/05/2019 at 17:18
An interesting take! When you say no social media freedom by 2050, are you suggesting that every country will ban at least one kind of social media?
Posted on 30/04/2019 at 20:54
I agree with Pete.
Posted on 26/03/2019 at 23:18
It’s always why we should keep social media and not the problems from it….Lazy people stuck in there alternate reality and is turning them conceited . How about the person who posts a picture and people attack them and then they kill themselves? Freedom of speech is NOT Freedom to Hate speech ,if you ever read any comments that they are just Toxic as hell! People don’t even look up anymore and further more they are stuck in this fake reality and non productive in REAL life.
I personally have seen my friends and family sit in there filthy house ignoring there children or things that need to be done, because they are stuck in the FAKE world of look at “me”. I honestly can’t stand social media and believe it’s a CANCER to the world.
A.I. has you and sadly it’s too late- quote from Elon Musk.
Posted on 02/05/2019 at 11:39
Hi Pete, you certainly have a point regarding how social media can almost take over someone’s life.
Don’t know if you read our recent article on Facebook, but there’s a section included that covers the cognitive science behind how social media has changed our habits.
It seems like people can become addicted to social media, much like they can with other damaging products.
Do you see any hope for social media in the future? It seems to be here to stay, but could it change to play a more beneficial or complimentary role?