Thursday, November 19, 2020 2:02 pm
Nigerian Government on Thursday argued forcefully on the need to regulate the social media.
Speaking at a press conference on the violence that trailed the EndSARS protests in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said social media was used to spread fake news and disinformation that catalyzed the violence that was witnessed across the country.
He added that social media was also used to guide arsonists and looters to certain properties, both public and private.
In addition, the Minister noted that pictures of persons, including some celebrities, who were supposedly killed at the Lekki Toll Gate by soldiers, were circulated widely on the social media, only for those persons to refute such claims or for the discerning to disprove such posts.
He however denied insinuations that government is planning to shut down the social media.
“As we have said many times, no responsible government will stand by and allow such abuse of social media to continue. The fake news/disinformation purveyors have latched on to our concerns to allege that the Federal Government is planning to shut down social media.
“No, we have no plans to shut down the social media. What we have always advocated, and what we will do, is to regulate the social media. Nigeria is not alone in this regard.
“The issue of social media regulation is an ongoing debate not just in Nigeria but around the world, including in the United States, which is the flag flyer of constitutional democracy.
“Even the owners of the various social media platforms, including Facebook, are increasingly joining the call for content regulation.
“Some respected opinion leaders have been playing to the gallery on the issue of social media regulation by making inciting and incendiary statements, while some other individuals and groups have been threatening fire and brimstone over the issue of social media regulation.
“What they have failed to understand is that the only reason we are even able to have this debate is because we have a country. If we allow the abuse of social media to precipitate uncontrolled internecine violence, the kind of which was narrowly averted during the EndSARS crisis, no one will remember or be able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, for whatever purpose.
“It is incumbent upon us all, therefore, to strike a balance between free speech – which this Administration is committed to upholding – and fake news/disinformation, which it is determined to fight,”