Ethiopia Blocks Social Media To Prevent Distraction During Exams

Government of Ethiopia blocks social media ahead of the end-of-year exams.

Last month, the questions set for the end-of-year exams were leaked online which caused a ruckus and resulted in the exams being cancelled. Hence Ethiopia blocks social media to prevent a recurring scenario and also to prevent the students from being distracted.

Ethiopians have been unable to access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber since Saturday as a result of the blockage.

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“It’s blocked. It’s a temporary measure until Wednesday. Social media have proven to be a distraction for students,” government spokesperson Getachew Reda told AFP.

However some Ethiopians believe there’s more to this than the government is letting on. They believe it could be a precedent for a total media blockage in the horn of Africa.

Prominent Ethiopian blogger Daniel Berhane is one of said people. He said,

“There’s no transparency on who decides why it’s necessary or who decides for how long,” he said.

“This time it’s for a few days but next time it could be for months […] They’re flexing their muscles. They got multiple tools and they’re testing them.”

The United Nations passed a resolution last week that termed internet shutdowns a “human rights violations committed against persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.”

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Ethiopia ranks very low on the 2015 (latest) Freedom House report on internet freedom. The horn of Africa has only a 2.9 per cent internet penetration. The government has often times arrested bloggers and journalist, calling them ‘terrorists’.

“The Ethiopian government’s complete control over the country’s telecommunications infrastructure via EthioTelecom enables it to restrict access to the internet and mobile phone services,” according to Freedom House.