By Taiwo Okanlawon
Social media or the internet in Nigeria will not be shut down, but only regulated, the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said.
The Minister said this at a press conference in Abuja, on Thursday.
He said the government is planning to work with stakeholders to regulate social media.
According to Lai Mohammed, social media was largely responsible for atrocities perpetrated in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
“The social media was used to guide arsonists and looters to certain properties both public and private.
“Pictures of persons including some celebrities who were supposedly taken at the Lekki Toll Gate were circulated widely only for those persons to refute such claims.
“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 social media. What we have always advocated, and what we will do, is to regulate 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.”
The minister further said the call for social media regulation in other to avert any future occurrence, adding that the irresponsible use of social media by some unscrupulous persons aggravated the violence that erupted in the wake of the #EndSARS protests and helped to precipitate the violence.
He said, “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,” he added.