Callum BoothManaging Editor
Callum is the Managing Editor of TNW. He covers the full spectrum of technology, looks after editorial newsletters, and makes the occasional Callum is the Managing Editor of TNW. He covers the full spectrum of technology, looks after editorial newsletters, and makes the occasional odd video.
In case you hadn’t heard, Uganda has a social media tax. From the 1st July, citizens of the East African country have had to pay 200 Ugandan Shillings (roughly $0.05) every single day to access social networks, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
As you can imagine, people are really, really, really happy about this.
Fuck #socialmediatax. This government is laughably insecure
— MoRie Maurice (Audio (@MoRieMaurice) July 1, 2018
Sent this tweet without paying tax, feels good evading tax. Fuck #socialmediatax
— Kagangure (@pitnhopet) June 30, 2018
Let me take this moment to say “FUCK THE UGANDAN GOVERNMENT” thanks for yo time.#SocialMediatax
— mR_rOb0T? (@DerrickJaheim) June 30, 2018
And those were some of the less aggressive tweets.
The thing is, while 200 Ugandan Shillings doesn’t sound like a huge amount from a Western perspective, this tax effectively takes away the poor’s ability to communicate. There are also more politically leaning criticisms of the move:
Those saying 200/- is little money or that VPNs cost more forget that people are not protesting the amount being paid, but the principle behind taxing every little thing from an already suffering economy so a corrupt government can get even more money to steal.#SocialMediaTax
— Solomon King (@solomonking) July 1, 2018
Overall though, people just don’t want to pay for something they had for free until very recently. And, in those situations, never count out the resourcefulness of humanity. And VPNs. Don’t forget VPNs.
According to BestVPN.com – a VPN comparison site – the number of Ugandan visitors to its service rose 1567 percent between Saturday and Sunday when the law went live. Also, it appears that Ugandans have been increasingly searching Google for VPNs too.
This interest in escaping the Social Media Tax by using VPNs hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Ugandan Government though.
Now look, I’m not here to go over the minutiae of the most cost-effective way to access social media in Uganda. I’m here to drop some names of VPNs that, if you happen to be in Uganda you should definitely, 100%, totally not use to visit social media sites without paying taxes.
- VPNHub: This is Pornhub’s VPN and we covered its launch back in May. It also has a free service.
- NordVPN: One of the biggest names in the VPN world, NordVPN isn’t free, but has a short trial period, so you can try before you buy.
- HotSpot Shield: We recently wrote about a study that named HotSpot Shield as the top VPN on the market. Bear in mind this study was commissioned by Anchorfree – the company who owns HotSpot Shield – so take it with a pinch of salt. Bear in mind too, that it has been called out for collecting data in the past. It has a free version though, so do as you will.
- ExpressVPN: This is the service that tops TheBestVPN.com‘s list of the, uh, best VPNs. (This is not to be confused with the aforementioned BestVPN.com)
- CyberGhost: Another service that scores highly across comparison websites, CyberGhost also has a free version.
There you have it, Uganda. A selection of VPNs you can use that, uh, will totally have no impact on your ability to get round the social media tax.
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