Google has closed down a hugely popular Ugandans At Heart website, citing breach of terms of service.
The social group was being managed by its founder and opposition leaning Ugandan political commentator Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba, who is based in the United Kingdom.
Created back in 2007 and with a current membership of over 15,000, the group hosted articles from journalists, diplomats, Ugandans in exile, politicians and citizens about a range of sociopolitical and economic topical issues.
Ugandans At Heart has often been deemed antigovernment over the years, with most of its topics boring holes in the current ruling NRM government under President Yoweri Museveni.
Its manager Semuwemba revealed today that the site had been closed because it “has been identified as containing spam, malware or other malicious content. Content in this group is now limited to view-only mode for those with access”.
“This is the first time we have been accused of something like that such that we would specifically wish to know what we are accused of,” said Semuwemba.
“It was a shock to all of us considering that most of the regular members of this specific group are outstanding members of the community, and think hard before they post anything to the group considering that some of our content ends up in print media and other social medias.”
He adds that the group had guidelines explained to every one of its members and published monthly as a reminder.
“I admit, some posts upset some of our members especially if they seem not to agree with certain facts or theories, but this has always been the case in most political and historical debates anywhere in the world. Yes, one of our members has been running series of the violence during Obote 1 and 2, and some Acholis and Langis (members from Obote’s tribe) were not happy with this, but I don’t see this as a reason to close the forum.”
“If you read through the articles yourself, you will realize that it’s just impossible to please everyone who is in the political spectrum in Uganda, but this should not also be a reason to close such a very important group.”
Just in December last year, Facebook Closed Ugandans at Heart’s social site, under similar circumstances.
Speaking to Chimpreports after the development, Mr Semuwemba said he suspected the Ugandan government had a hand in Facebook’s decision to shut down the group which boasted over 67,000 active members.