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Social Media use Explodes in Cameroon as Government fails to Monitor the Issue

Cameroon's government has used several laws to crack down on mobile and online communications, including a 2014 anti-terrorism law and the newly revised penal code

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Social media use has exploded in Cameroon, as have the government’s efforts to police it.

These members of the Presbyterian church Bota in Limbe, southwestern Cameroon are praying for three local men: Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob.

They were convicted by a military court this month after allegedly sharing an SMS joke about recruitment for the Boko Haram terrorist group. The proceedings were closed to the public and Amnesty International and local rights groups condemned the conviction.

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Among those gathered at the church is Tabot Timothy, a 22-year-old law student at the University of Douala-Cameroon.

“It was normal for a thorough investigation to be carried out to ascertain that these guys were joking. It is unjust,” Timothy said. “Thorough investigations were not carried out.”

Cameroon’s government has used several laws to crack down on mobile and online communications, including a 2014 anti-terrorism law and the newly revised penal code.

Barrister George Marcellin Tsoungui, a member of the Cameroon Bar Council says prison time of six months to two years and fines of $10,000 to $20,000 await those who use electronic media to propagate information without proof. He says the sanctions can be doubled if it is found that the communications were intended to destabilize social peace.

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Police detained a journalist in January after he erroneously reported on social media that President Paul Biya had visited soldiers in the north.

In March, police arrested people accused of sharing a leaked confidential letter on social media. The letter was from the country’s minister of defense and said that Boko Haram terrorists had arrived in Yaounde.

The country’s National Communications Council has the power to suspend journalists and seal media houses.

The council is investigating 20 complaints of what it calls “social media blackmail” submitted by senior state officials. One of the complaints concerns a minister who was seen on Facebook dancing to the music of Franko, an artist whose songs were banned by the government.

Despite the arrests, social media and mobile messaging apps and networking sites are increasingly popular in Cameroon, and are used by opponents and supporters of the government alike.

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“Social media is inevitable. It’s like a devil that you are called upon to live with. It is difficult to suppress it. It’s just going to be like throwing water on a duck’s back,” said Nelson Tawe, a social media consultant. “Social media has come to stay there is no way you can suppress it. I think that government is going to have an uphill task to succeed in what it is trying to do.”

Cameroon is not the only country getting jittery about the fast form of communication.

Several countries in Africa have taken similar measures, and a new report from the Washington-based Freedom House says internet freedom has declined globally for the sixth consecutive year. (VOA)

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400 mn People Using Facebook Watch Monthly

The company also announced that "Ad Breaks" are now available to eligible Pages in 40 countries around the world

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400 mn using Facebook Watch, now available on desktop. Pixabay

Over 400 million people are using video-on-demand service Facebook Watch monthly and 75 million people daily who spend at least one minute on Watch, the social networking platform has announced.
Launched in the US in 2017, the video service allows users to enjoy videos from different genres, including entertainment, sports and news in their personalised “Watch Feed” that carries a collection of recent videos from the pages they follow.

“Well, 2018 was a big year for Facebook Watch. Watch launched in every country around the world, the platform opened to videos from all Pages, and we debuted dozens of Facebook Originals,” Fidji Simo, Head of Video, said in a blog post on Thursday.

In August, Facebook rolled out Watch globally on mobile and now, the service is also available on desktop and Facebook Lite, the company announced.

On an average, 75 million daily visitors spend more than 20 minutes in Watch.

“Since the Summer we have been working to bring ‘Watch Party’ to everyone on Facebook.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“We’ve seen it really take off — there have been more than 12 million Watch Parties in Groups alone, and Watch Parties garner eight times more comments than regular videos in Groups,” said Facebook.

The company is also working to unify the video experience across Facebook.

Right now, people can find videos on Facebook in a number of different places — Watch, News Feed, Search, Pages and more.

“We want to make the experience of watching video feel immersive, no matter where you discovered it. As part of this effort, we’ll be testing a few things in the coming months,” informed Simo.

Also Read- Google Launches New Shopping Search Features For Indian Users

The company also announced that “Ad Breaks” are now available to eligible Pages in 40 countries around the world.

“We’ll bring Ad Breaks to video creators in more countries around the world, and will test new Ad Breaks placements, like in livestreams from gaming creators,” Simo said, adding that the company would provide advertisers with more options to tailor their video ad campaigns and connect with target audience. (IANS)