Internet freedom is not a reality in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe has been found among countries with the biggest score declines in FREEDOM ON THE NET 2019 report. The report was made by the support of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), the New York Community Trust, Google, Internet Society, and Verizon Media.

The authorities of Zimbabwe restricted connectivity and blocked social media platforms early this year in January 2019. The citizens of Zimbabwe just waked up unable to send and receive messages on Whatsapp and other social media platforms, as the day was proceeding discovered they had no internet connection.

Many Zimbabweans were surprised by this act which had been done by the government as they had never thought of it happening in their beloved nation. It was seen as something that could be seen on TV happening to nations where there are a lot of cybersecurity issues.

The internet is an unregulated space, a place was information flow smoothly. A place you can express yourself freely without fearing anyone. Digital platforms have become the battleground for democracy as they are shaping the flow of information on the internet.

The entrance of politicians to digital platforms resulted in the disappearance of internet freedom. They came with the aim to manipulate elections to their own favor.

Presidents and the government started to join the social media, they have taken their societal value to these platforms. They are now planning on controlling the flow of information on these platforms crashing the thoughts that go against their information.

Five major methods of content manipulation have been outlined by Freedom House, these are propagandistic news, outright fake news, paid commentators, bots (automated accounts), and the hijacking of real social media accounts.

Websites that allowed people to share information were blocked in January because they wanted to maintain propagandistic news as the demonstrations by the people were growing. People were exercising their right of freedom when the government decided to block the websites a sign which shows many a true reality that there was no freedom on the internet.

The people want to always access their internet especially the sites which have been blocked so a way to exercise freedom is being invented every day. A way to bypass the blocking of the websites was discovered by the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

A VPN is a private network that uses a public network (usually the internet) to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN uses “virtual” connections routed through the internet from the business’s private network or a third-party VPN service to the remote site or person.

As such technology was discovered the people started to access the internet that had been blocked by the government. The people at that moment started to exercise their freedom on the internet by insulting the president directly on his social media platforms.

President E D Munangagwa continued to use his social media platforms as if all was normal in his country which saw his followers on twitter asking on how he was being able to use the websites he had blocked in his country.

The internet has given ordinary people a chance to be influencers in societies. The people with larger numbers of followers are now being regulated by authorities.

Individuals who have gained popularity through these social media platforms through the jokes occurring in their societies have risen to fame and made a living through these digital platforms, but have been dragged to the courts on charges based on the jokes they posted on the social media. This is one way of sign that the government officials are trying by all means to manipulate these platforms.

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