Blocking Fake Accounts

Egypt passes legislation to block some social media accounts

Egypt's parliament has passed controversial legislation aimed at regulating popular social media accounts that publish "fake news."

The new strongman, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, engineered a second term as president in early 2018. El-Sissi led the military's 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president.


Seven years after the January 2011 revolution, the level of media freedom is abysmal, and Egypt is now one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists. Some spend years in detention without being charged or tried. Others have been sentenced to long jail terms or even life imprisonment in cruelly unfair mass trials. Under Sisi’s leadership, the authorities have waged a witch-hunt since 2013 against journalists suspected of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and have orchestrated a “Sisification” of the media.

An increasingly draconian legislative arsenal poses an additional threat to media freedom. Under a terrorism law adopted in August 2015, journalists are obliged on national security grounds to report only the official version of terrorist attacks. A December 2016 law regulating the media reinforced government control, and journalists and human rights defenders are banned from much of the Sinai region and from providing independent coverage of any military operation.

Coverage of many economic subjects, including inflation and corruption, can also result in imprisonment. The Internet is the only place left where independently reported news and information can circulate, but more than 400 websites have been blocked since the summer of 2017 and more and more people are being arrested because of their social network posts.


The bill, which gained parliament's approval Monday, allows authorities to block a personal account on a social media outlet with more than 5,000 followers for publishing fake news. The bill must still be signed by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's to become law.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt as 161 out of 180 countries on its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, i.e. same ranking as in 2017.

tag: news , legal , social , media

Author: Arnab Majumdar   


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