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Is @KagutaMuseveni a private account? The media experts view

President KagutaMuseveni

Nanfuka says that the account @KagutaMuseveni which gives public information to Ugandans should be accessed, and in this regard blocking a person is contravening Ugandan laws which guarantee access to information. Nanfuka says leaders online cannot block people, because “you cannot block everyone who says something contrary.”    

Dr Fred Kakooza, a specialist in ICT, New media and Development communication and lecturer at Makerere University’s Department of Journalism says that the ideal would be to have a public account and a private account, for instance having an account named President of Uganda and one as Yoweri K Museveni.  

According to Kakooza, having public profiles as office names like Office of the President, or President of Uganda would be strictly public and require that one is subjected to public scrutiny.  He, however, says that the moment that a profile is in the name of an individual, yet they communicate official messages, then they lose the right to privacy.    

Dr George Lugalambi, Another Media Specialist, says that the President has an official persona and people will respond to the President on official matters of the state, a fact he cannot run away from.

“He has tweeted about his cows at Rwakitura, he is hosting his family on a Christmas party, he is hosting that video of his exercise, those are not matters of the State, so he should post those in his account like Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, but if he is posting on national or matters of state, there should be an account for that,” Lugalambi said.  

Professor Frederic Jjuuko, the Dean of Law school at the Uganda Martyrs University says that although a private person in a leadership position has a right to block someone who follows them, the situation is different if the person is using the account for the office they occupy.    

“If their presence there is in a private capacity, there is a difference between the office and the person and if they have this account and it is dedicated to private life that ought to be respected,” Jjuuko said.   He, however, says the conduct of a public figure is a matter of public concern and this is where there could be issues. For instance, he says, sometimes Museveni posts Public information, but this could still be in a private capacity.  

Three years ago, the Federal Court in New York City held that President Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America was violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.   

According to the judges, the social media platform is a designated public forum from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. They rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his associational freedoms and stated that because President Trump controls access to his handle and uses it for official government purposes, it is a public forum and cannot block people solely based on their viewpoints. 

Although there is a twitter handle for the President of United States of America @POTUS that has been used by many Presidents, President Trump uses his account, which also seems to be more popular, Amongst Twitter users. Trump has more than 60 million followers on Twitter and his tweets are widely shared often generating praise and criticism from within and outside the United States of America. 

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