Nobody better understands the importance of curbing down heavily the flow of information than dictators like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. His government is cracking down on social media and social networking services. The prices of mobile data connectivity have been considerably raised so that people cannot use mobile data to exchange messages on Facebook and WhatsApp easily. This NYTimes link describes how the government of Zimbabwe exiled a pastor for spreading the revolutionary messages through Twitter and other social networking means. The article is aptly titled “Robert Mugabe seizes on the latest political threat to his Zimbabwe: WhatsApp”.
Social networking and social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can pose the biggest threat to dictatorial governments like Robert Mugabe’s. How do these dictators survive and manage to rule over millions of people? These millions of people don’t have any means to communicate. Telephones are not easily available and if they are easily available, people’s calls are monitored. People are not allowed to communicate to each other openly and freely. Dissent is dealt with heavy hand. People are made an example of.
Social networking allows people to spread ideas and messages within seconds and by the time these messages are curbed by a regime, they have done their job. This is why dictators like Robert Mugabe look at WhatsApp as one of the biggest political threats.
Social media and social networking wield so much power that not only Zimbabwe, other African countries like Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Chad, Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia are often shut down the Internet during precarious stages.