People use social media to communicate, organise, trade, and study, amongst other things. Not only are internet blackouts a human rights infringement, but they are also directly involved in economic losses.

The social media ban in Chad that has lasted for 16 months is soon to be lifted. Speaking at a conference today, President Idriss Deby has announced that the ban which has been in place since 28th March 2018 will be lifted.

Previously, lawyers in Chad had presented an application in March 2019 to the courts seeking an order to force government to lift a social media blackout. However, the Appeals Court struck out the case allowing the government to continue the blackout.

For a year now, Chadians have been unable to use particular social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. The state says these applications have helped to organize anti-government protests which in turn threaten internal security.

The ban was imposed when a national conference recommended changes to the constitution to allow President Idriss Deby Itno to continue in office until 2033. The ban is part of internet shutdowns and censorships that are hallmarks of authoritarian regimes.

Recently, Sudan and Ethiopia have also had internet shutdowns, and, outside of Africa is China’s Great Firewall which is perhaps the most successful censorship program in the entire world.

People use social media to communicate, organise, trade, and study, amongst other things. Not only are internet blackouts a human rights infringement, but they are also directly involved in economic losses. Chad is estimated to have lost $20 million in a 2016 social media blackout alone.

Deuh’b Emmanuel, a prominent Chadian blogger, told the BBC, “Without Facebook, without access to social media, it’s like being in prison without a cell.”

It remains to be seen whether the president will follow through and lift the ban.