We’re so used to using WhatsApp and Facebook without any charge that it comes as a shock that the government in Uganda wants to tax users. Anyone who uses a messaging or social media platform, such as Twitter, will pay 200 Ugandan shillings per day, which is the equivalent of about five cents. Mobile money transactions will have a one percent tax as well.
Critics claim the tax is a way of quieting people who criticize the government, especially President Yoweri Museveni, while the finance minister claims that the money will go toward infrastructure updates, which includes making electricity more reliable, and free education and free healthcare.
The tax goes into effect in July, although, there is still no word on how the government will determine who is using social media and who is not on any given day. Reports suggest mobile phone operators will collect the tax. Critics on the social media tax claim that they already pay a tax on their data, so they will be taxed twice for visiting social media sites.
Uganda is not alone in trying to limit social media and private blogs; Tanzania charges online bloggers a license fee. Papua New Guinea plans to shut down citizen’s access to Facebook, in order to see how the population uses the platform. The government has not announced how they plan to study how the citizens use Facebook if Facebook is shut down.