An investigation reveals who really is behind Facebook character
How do you track a character who is hell-bent on hiding their identity on the online social networking service, Facebook? That is the task several individuals and intelligence institutions in Uganda have sought to answer as they sought to unmask a Facebook character called Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO). Pseudo names associated with this character include Maverick Blutaski, General Shaka, Rtd Gen. Maverick, and Poliko. The only real person name associated with the character is a 41-year old man called Shaka Robert Kananura.
Shaka’s name was officially linked to TVO for the first time when he was arrested in February 2015 and charged in June 2015 with violating the Computer Misuse Act as a suspect for writing under the name Tom Voltaire Okwalinga or TVO. He denied the charge. He was in the same month released on bail.
But is Shaka really TVO?
On the face of it, this question should be easy to answer. But surprisingly, the Museveni administration has proved exceptionally incompetent in managing ICT issues but even worse when it comes to the management of social media.
Consequently, while the government has spent millions of dollars trying to know who TVO is and gotten little or nothing, it takes even an amateur to establish his identity. It could boil down to either corruption, incompetence, profiteering by insiders in the system preferring not to establish truths. Among its major attempts was a government request to Facebook to release the identity of TVO. Facebook refused.
Meanwhile TVO has continued unleashing sensational information.
On December 30th 2016 at 8:16am, TVO posted on his page: “HUGE BREAKING NEWS IN 10 MINUTES”.
Then later he posted: “1st. Jan. a covert and clandestine campaign to quickly uproot the illegitimate regime begins. This will target (President Yoweri) Museveni, his family members (who are part of the oppression machine), their business interests and anything and anybody associated with them will be targeted by people. They will not see or know who they are. The very ground on which this illegitimate regime is standing will be more shaky than ever before.”
But the events that have exposed the identity of TVO had started a few days earlier, on December 26, 2016.
On that day, at 12.36am, a group of hackers claiming to be Albanian hacked into the websites of several government departments and ministries including that of Finance, Education, President’s Office, Uganda National Examinations Board, the Inspectorate of Government, the National Agriculture Research Organisation, Judicial Service Commission, Post Bank, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies/consulates in Bujumbura, Pretoria, and Mombasa etc.
After this, they sent an electronic message to TVO on Facebook.
“Hello. Is this TVO? We are an Albanian hacker group with anonymous. We are working on hacking Uganda government and we came across you. We are wondering if you want to buy some information we have hacked from websites and server about government and president of Uganda. Uganda Website security is very bad and the administrators are very stupid. We have a lot of information from a lot of websites from finance.go.ug, education.go.ug, parliament.go.ug and plenty more. We also have a lot of Uganda top stories. If you want them we would like to talk to you about working with you and taking out the corrupt government.”
Now TVO is a smart internet junkie. He instinctively feared this could be a trap to unmask him. So he did not take the bait easily.