Avoiding a twitter revolution in Swaziland

Various scholars and analysts will continue to debate the role of social media within the Arab Spring. But Swaziland’s King Mswati III isn’t taking any chances: According to the M&G, he’s planning to ban criticism on facebook and twitter. I am guessing that the little kingdom state probably doesn’t have the capacity to track down its cyber-critics. But perhaps the relationship between Mswati and the largely South Africa-based mobile and internet providers is cozier than I assume it to be?

At the moment, the Swaziland facebook page is replete with nasty critiques: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Swaziland/48672481450, and renewed calls for protest on April 12.

Note to autocrats: don’t bother proposing a ban on free speech unless you can actually carry it out!

Mbeki down on twitter

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki — often perceived as overly-intellectual and removed from the people during his tenure — made disparaging comments this week about Twitter, as well as other forms of internet-based communications.

If you want to discuss knowledge which has got to do with the betterment of society I don’t think it (twitter) is appropriate.

Even the internet in general, blogging and so on, is not the place where you can put all these things under theories.

Well… as I am writing here on a blog, one that sends out auto-tweets, maybe I should be offended. He’s certainly right that some bad information can get spread pretty quickly in the unregulated blogo-twitter-sphere — which relates to my earlier post about concerns for false weather reports. But given all of the fantastic ways in which Africans are beginning to use information technology and social media to improve their lives, once again, Mbeki is missing the big picture. Ironically, he developed his own absolutely wacky fascination with radical theories of HIV and AIDS treatment through discoveries he made on the web. So maybe this statement is a backhanded mea culpa?