Today Uganda goes to the polls to elect the next president.
But many Ugandans woke up to numbness: there were no hundreds of notifications from social media they’re used to waking up to. Particularly Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook were blocked on major telecom networks. Also, mobile money was switched off.
In fact, in an official communication from Uganda Communication Commission; they take responsibility of the directive. They say that they got information that mobile money would be used to bribe voters and that people were still campaigning past official dates on social media.
— NBS Television (@nbstv) February 18, 2016
MTN and Airtel Uganda have released press releases on their Facebook pages confirming a directive from UCC to switch off Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook today.
Ugandans took to several alternatives to bypass the censorship and share the information allover. They used VPNs on desktop and mobile, proxy-based browsers and alternative communication apps to keep in-touch with family and friends and get the latest information.
The following are some of the ways that Ugandans used to access blocked services.
A Virtual Private Network is simply a method employing encryption to provide secure access to a remote computer over the Internet. So this means that Ugandans could still access your Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter without being blocked. There are several apps for Android, iOS and Windows phones that were used.
For Android, the following were used
- Tunnel Bear: This has turned out to be a favorite for may people online. It gives you a limit of up to 500MB but works like gold. Downloaded from here. If you can access google play store, download the apk from this website.
- Cloud VPN: Downloaded from here.
- Hotspot Shield: Been touted a great app, please downloaded here.
- Spotflux: Downloaded from here.
- Orbot: Part of TOR project, please downloaded here.
For iOS, the following were used
- Onavo: Arguably, the best on iOS. Downloaded here.
- Betternet: Has versions on different platforms. Downloaded here.
For Windows, the following were used
- VPN in touch: This works like a charm too. Downloaded here
If you’re on PC or Mac or Linux, there are several options. Some of which are cross-platform. Please visit Tunnel Bear, Spotflux and Tor. For other options, a quick google search will help.
There are thousands of VPN apps. Please take note too.
#2. Opera mini and UC Browser
These are feature and smartphone browsers that use proxy servers to access Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook. Ugandans downloaded those apps on all mobile platforms. Download Opera Mini on Android here, on iOS here and on Windows here.
#3. Messenger apps
It’s important to note that chat apps like Telegram messenger and Wickr are more secure end to end messenger apps than Whatsapp. So far from the reports, they are being downloaded by many following the blockade on whatsapp. Telegram was downloaded from here on Google Play. The app is also available on iOS and Windows.
#4. On your PC or Desktop
Ugandans also downloaded the Tor browser. It works without having to install a VPN. Both Facebook and Twitter will take you through some security hops before you start browsing away.