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Lesotho Follows Tanzania’s Lead in Regulating Online Content Creators

Journalists and media freedom activists in Lesotho are objecting to a government proposal to restrict social media, saying it amounts to stifling speech for everyone in the nation of 2 million people. The set of regulations, introduced for debate by lawmakers this week, would require all social media users with more than 100 followers to register as “internet broadcasters” — a move that would, in turn, require them to abide by the same rules that govern broadcast media houses. It would also allow regulators to investigate social media users’ posts and even order them to remove them. “Lesotho is following in the footsteps of Tanzania in seeking to regulate online content creators,” the Media Institute of Southern Africa, a media monitoring group, said in a statement, adding that this “could be a pretext to curb freedom of expression and digital rights.” But other nations have used their laws to limit social media, like Tanzania, which recently passed a set of regulations that seek to punish social media users who “ridicule, abuse or harm the reputation, prestige or status of the United Republic of Tanzania.” Last year, Kenya passed a similar law, sparking outrage from journalists and academics.