Facebook takes down Ugandan accounts ahead of election

3D-printed ballot boxes are seen in front of displayed Facebook and Twitter logos in this illustration taken November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

KAMPALA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Facebook (FB.O) has taken down a network in Uganda linked to the country's ministry of information for using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week's presidential election, the U.S. social media giant said on Monday.

Ugandans vote on Thursday in a presidential election pitting long-time leader Yoweri Museveni against 10 candidates including opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a singer-turned-lawmaker whose star power has rattled the ruling party. read more

"Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network," Facebook said in a statement. "We found this network to be linked to the Government Citizens Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda."

"They used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people's content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were," Facebook said.

Judith Nabakooba, Uganda's minister of information, told Reuters she needed more time to study the situation before commenting.

Scores of opposition protesters have been killed during a campaign scarred by crackdowns on Wine's rallies which the authorities say contravene curbs on gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Editing by David Clarke

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