Cutting off social media access to try control events is a growing trend across Africa. Just this year, DR Congo, Algeria, Sudan, and Benin all cut off connectivity to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp during crucial elections or anti-government protests. Citizens of Chad, meanwhile, haven’t had access to social networks for over a year. Recent research has shown that internet disruptions in Africa were correlated with authoritarianism, with dictatorships blocking access more than partial or full democratic states.

Mogadishu’s decision isn’t the first time social networks have been blocked in the country. Somaliland, the self-declared republic in northwestern Somalia, also restricted access to social media during its 2017 elections. Activists and entrepreneurs say the move will negatively impact the nation’s nascent but growing tech space.

Amnesty International has dubbed the social media blackout “unjustified,” saying officials were “ridiculous” to block access when they failed on their duty to safeguard exam papers.

“They should instead explore ways to secure the integrity of the exams without resorting to regressive measures that would curtail access to information and freedom of expression,” said Amnesty’s deputy regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Seif Magango.

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