- Authorities in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Sudan restricted the internet to its citizens last year.
- Africa is second to Asia in internet restrictions as autocratic rulers stifle freedom of expression.
- Facebook is the most despised by despotic countries.
According to Surfshark's annual summary on internet censorship, 4.2 billion people worldwide were subjected to widespread internet censorship in 2022, of which about 300 million were in Africa.
The report says Africa was second to Asia in internet shutdowns as autocratic countries continued to use internet censorship as a popular tactic to cut off citizens from the outside world.
"More than half of the world's population was affected by internet censorship last year. Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level.
"These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests or violent government repressions. Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilise people for the defence of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites, and spread information to the outside world on what's happening," said Surfshark spokesperson Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske.
According to the report, Zimbabwe (3), Somalia (1), Sierra Leone (2), Burkina Faso (3) and Sudan (4) imposed a combined 13 internet restrictions to their people.
READ | World Economic Forum: 4 sectors identified for rapid growth in Africa
"Through the past year, we've seen how governments have used internet shutdowns and telecommunications blackouts as a tool of repression and control, silencing journalists, civil society, and the general public.
"Internet connectivity today underpins all human rights, which is why it's more critical than ever to document mass-censorship incidents and find ways to get people reconnected," said Alp Toker, the director of NetBlocks, a watchdog organisation that monitors cybersecurity and governance of the internet.
The report said Burkina Faso's ongoing restriction of Facebook was the longest in the world last year, followed by Russia and Azerbaijan.
Facebook is the social media site most despised by despotic countries and was heavily censored in 2022.
Since 2015, government-imposed Facebook limitations have had an impact on an astounding 46% of the world's population.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.