taxing social media

The dictator of Uganda wants to tax citizens for using “social media”.


A few days ago it got me thinking that it would be technically difficult, if not impossible, for the government of Uganda to accurately track individual users and their usage of social media to arrive at an accurate number.

A riposte by other anonymous commentators goes that technologies in recent times show that it is possible if not already applied.

To which I replied:

Including blocking federated socmed services based on Mastodon/Diaspora/GNUsocial/ActivityPub routed through encrypted DNS servers & onion routers?

I mean yea sure blocking FB/twt/G+ & other centralized socmeds would be easy, even tracking usage through blockchain etc.,etc.

Tracking & charging centralized socmed, is different from tracking & charging *all* socmed.

“Life always finds a way”, to borrow from Jurassic World…

I’m not paying cash for Twitter.

Do *you* want to pay cash for Twitter?

How many Ugandans would pay cash for Twitter..?

…And then, just under 24 hours later, public protests seem to have forced even the Ugandan dictator to reconsider his tax.


Now mind you governments do tax Google, Facebook, Twitter. The governments tax the corporations and the corporations happily pay a percentage (through differing mechanisms depending on country/jurisdiction) because the corporations still manage to profit despite the taxation. Obviously, because if they can’t profit (at least profit long-term, and in some manner or some way) then obviously the businesses involved would eventually collapse.

Taxing citizens/users directly for time spent on socmed might discourage socmed abuse, such as how tax on tobacco, alcohol, gambling is supposed to discourage abuse, but the difference here is that citizens/users in the case of socmed don’t feel the sting of tax because the ones being taxed are the corporations, not the users. The “nanny-state” tax on socmed doesn’t work because it isn’t the babies that are getting taxed, it’s the “candy sellers” aka. the corporations. No one is taking candies from the babies.

The Internet is the cheapest, most cost-effective telecommunications infrastructure that Humanity has ever developed in history. And on the flip-side of that benefit, the escapism afforded by the Internet has detrimental side-effects that cannot be easily dismissed either. A first instinct reaction for many, including myself to be honest, is to react “censorship internet blockade bad”. Taxing users seem like a novel idea that might just work but personally I am biased against it. On the other hand though…

Whatever. The evil dictator must be deposed yadda yadda.


I personally would like to give more thought on this before I publish this but naah. I’m out of energy. </hits publish>


Author: Ferdi Zebua

For more info visit my blog, my Google+, or my Ello.

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