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#SocialMediaBlackout: High data cost back in the spotlight

South Africans have been urged to stay away from all social media activities on 21 June.

Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The “Data Must Fall” hashtag has found its way back onto Twitter.

This time Twitter users are calling for a social media blackout to protest the high cost of data.

Last year, Touch Central CEO Tbo Touch and Cliff Central founder Gareth Cliff addressed Parliament’s telecommunications and postal services portfolio committee about their concerns over high data costs in the country.

This followed the former Metro FM DJ’s call for South African mobile networks to decrease the prices of their data.

Tbo Touch said that the #DataMustFall cause is important as it signifies how important data has become in people's daily lives.

For 1Gb of data, users fork out R160 for MTN, R149 for Vodacom, R99 for Telkom, R149 for Cell C.

Following the DJ’s call, MTN last year began offering their subscribers free Twitter access.

This has since changed. In June, the multinational mobile telecommunications company announced it would offer 500Mb to users to access Twitter.

At the start of 2017, mobile network Vodacom stopped billing data usage for a free basic version of Facebook, joining the likes of Cell C in offering zero-rated social networks.

Last year, Cell C announced that its users would be able to access Facebook for free through Free Basics.

Tbo Touch has since come under fire from Twitter users who have branded him a sell-out, starting the hashtag #TouchSoldOut, for his tweet in which he called MTN users “ungrateful”.

In the tweet from last year, he says: “From R160 for 1Gig to R65 for and R99 for 2Gig a week. Come on please stop being ungrateful what more do you want #Datafalling (sic)”

The struggle over the high price of data continues and Twitter users seem determined to get the four major mobile networks to respond to their call.