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This Country Now Taxes Social Media Use And People Are Pissed

"Imagine paying your #socialmediatax only to have your tweet stolen."

Posted on July 3, 2018, at 6:34 a.m. ET

In May, the Ugandan government passed a law that would impose a daily tax on social media users.

People are required to pay 200 Ugandan shillings — around 5 cents — a day to have access to platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, while a 1% tax on mobile money transactions, a popular payment method, was also introduced.
Isaac Kasamani / AFP / Getty Images

People are required to pay 200 Ugandan shillings — around 5 cents — a day to have access to platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, while a 1% tax on mobile money transactions, a popular payment method, was also introduced.

The law came into effect Monday.

Uganda blocks Social media & other OTT SERVICES. Many have taken it to Private Secure Networks, VPN & VPS to avoid the daily ugx 200. Daily's ago public servants, ministers privileges were increased by over 73%. Cc. @Info_Activism #IntelPostUpdates #SocialMediaTax https://t.co/lsnSz3ZX4E

To start, many Ugandans were shocked that the law was real.

Facebook: sylvia.akankwasa.7

Others, of course, reacted through memes.

While the rest of the world is moving forward aggressively with technology advancements and better internet access for all, Uganda is wondering what the Stone Age looks like. #SocialMediaTax

Evacuate this city, Engage all VPN defenses, And get this man a SWIFT #socialmediatax

Guys lets stop talking about VPN and pretend we paid the tax So that museveni and his goons can start fighting amongst themselves looking for who stole the #socialmediatax money https://t.co/jmLPEUtSIw

The struggle is real.

Imagine paying your #socialmediatax only to have your tweet stolen

If you’re in Uganda 🇺🇬 and you are seeing this tweet CongMotherfuckingulations; Are you using VPN or you paid the #SocialMediaTax https://t.co/XVvtgaJ5d5

And there was sass.

The President should also pay over staying tax #SocialMediaTax

The tax has been labeled as an attempt to control young Ugandans and stop the spread of ideas via messaging apps. Others worry that it will have a negative effect on those in rural areas who need mobile transfers to survive.

Mobile money lady earlier told me business fell drastically today! Her entire shop (juice, bills payment & more) is based on the Mobile Money system! She fears for her earnings and the children’s school fees - Effects 😭 #SocialMediaTax

And now there is legal backlash too.

We have filed our suit challenging the #SocialMediaTax. Lawyers are currently serving the attorney general, UCC and URA and actively seeking a date for when the petition can be heard and disposed off. Our suit raises fundamental disagreement with the tax. https://t.co/YFLyHb06Os

"We reject Mobile money and #SocialMediaTax and if the govt doesn't repel the two, we shall rally citizens to exercise their constitutional right in order to fight this." @HEBobiwine Presser at Hotel Africanna.

In a statement released Monday, Amnesty International's director for East Africa said the "gossip tax" was "a clear attempt to silence dissent."

"It is not the place of the Ugandan authorities to determine what discussions taking place on social media platforms are useful. Rather, it is their responsibility to uphold and nurture unfettered enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, both online and offline," said Joan Nyanyuki.

"Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp have opened up cheaper avenues of communication and information sharing in Uganda. By making people pay for using these platforms, this tax will render these avenues of communication inaccessible for low-income earners, robbing many people of their right to freedom of expression, with a chilling effect on other human rights.

"This is a clear attempt to silence dissent, in the guise of raising government revenues."

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