I found this article fascinating on a number of fronts. It is clear from our most recent election that online news and social media, while forces capable of mobilizing citizens to action, can also obfuscate truth and lead to undemocratic outcomes. For the past decade, dictatorial regimes have already been using social media and the online press to advance their own interests at the expense of democratic values. In Equatorial Guinea, Obiang employs a Washington based Public Relations firm to clean his image both online and in front of the American government. Rwanda similarly hires Western PR firms, noticeably using Racepoint to brandish its image EU policymakers.
Kabila’s move mirrors those of Arab dictators during the Arab spring who sought to reverse the tide of revolution by controlling online media. In Egypt, twitter was blocked. China noticeably as well extensively monitors its internet and blocks most western social media sites. Earlier this fall, mass protests swept across Kinshasa as Kabila moved to delay elections. It is clear that the government anticipates further protests to take place and is moving to mitigate such threats by undermining online organization. However violence will likely though since Kinshasa doesn’t have a central square like Cairo’s Tahrir square it will be easier for the government to manage the demonstrations.