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Media ban forces rise in social media use

Friday, February 28, 2014

The social media has risen to the fore after Venezuelan authorities warned media houses against reporting on recent protests and threatened high fines, claims businessman Austin Agho. Agho was among speakers at yesterday’s UWI forum on the Venezuelan crisis. “The intention of the Maduro administration is for the world not to know about this,” Agho said, displaying a picture of a female student’s blood-covered face, her eye blown away by gunshots.

She died, Agho added. He displayed other pictures of clashes and law enforcement officers’ altercations with civilians.“Right now the only thing preventing the Venezuelan authorities from undertaking repression by force is the social media,” he added. Agho said the veracity of everything on social media had to be rectified but he maintained the rise of social media in the situation had occurred because of necessity as decisions had been taken out of people’s hands and it was necessary to get the message out. 

He said there were 3.6 million Internet subscribers in Venezuela and 12.9 million users. He said Facebook has 9.6 million subscribers in Venezuela and three million on Twitter. He said even after opposition group leader, Leopoldo Lopez, was detained, his wife continued to keep his messages going via Twitter. UWI’s Armando Garcia said current protestors have more power now than in previous unrests due to the social media circulation. Agho said Venezuelan journalists have also protested lack of newsprint and nine newspapers in one state have stopped publishing or reduced page content due to the situation. (GA) 


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