• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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FG begins process to regulate social media

Lai Mohammed
The federal government of Nigeria has announced that it has kick-started the process to regulate social media.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture disclosed this during a meeting with Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) in Abuja on Thursday.
The minister said the federal government is exploring different options to regulate the social media. He said in addition to enacting new laws, the government can leverage on technology, and work with the big techies like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram to check the spread of fake news and hate speech.
Mohammed hinted that a committe will be set up to determine the best option to regulate the social media space.
“Let me announce here that we have just kick-started the process. We have dispatched letters inviting representatives of the media, civil society, technology and security experts, online publishers, bloggers, relevant agencies of government, etc, for this purpose”, he said.
Mohammed explained that the process will not be unilateral, but will involve all stakeholders coming together to chart the path forward.
The minister said countries around the world are as concerned as Nigeria and are doing something about social media. The countries according to him include Germany, UK, Singapore, China, South Korea, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, amongst others.
Mohammed noted that the federal government’s plan to sanitize the social media has generated intense debate. He said while some have supported the plan, others have opposed it.
He stressed that no criticism will stop efforts to sanitize the social media space.
“An interesting part of the debate has been that even those who oppose the regulation have acknowledged the dangers inherent in the irresponsible use of social media, especially by anarchists and non-patriots. We thank everyone who has spoken out, and we hope the debate will continue”, he said.
Mohammed added that those who opposed to the planned regulation have argued that the nation already has enough laws to deal with those who are using the social media to purvey fake news and hate speech and, and that the plan is aimed at stifling free speech and muzzling the media, especially those critical of the Administration.
According to him, “it is premature for anyone to say there are enough laws already to deal with social media deviants”.
Mohammed reiterated that there are no plans to stifle free speech or muzzle the media saying the government welcomes criticism from social media.
“We have no such plan. As we speak, people are on social media criticizing the Administration. We have no problem with that because it is part of democracy.
“People are using traditional media to criticize the Administration. Why not? This is a democracy and there should be a plurality of opinions. But our concern has to do with the abuse of the social media by those who are bent on spreading fake news and hate speech, and the dangers inherent in that for our national peace and unity. We have no hidden agenda.
“As I have said many times, no responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration”, Mohammed said.
The minister solicited the support of the GOCOP in the National Campaign for fake news and hate speech.
Godsgift Onyedinefu, Abuja