When you wake up in the morning, which of the following do you do first? Do you pray, read the Holy book, read your books(like the geeky medical student you are), do house chores or check your social media on your phone? If your answer to this question was the last option, then this article is surely important to you. If your answer wasn’t the last option, this article will likely still be important to you.
In a country that currently ranks highest in number of internet users in Africa with over 111.6 million internet users, the importance of the Social media can not be overemphasized. Factoring in undesirable internet services and many citizens who do not own an internet-enabled phone due to low socio-economic status; it is safe to say that a figure of over 100 million internet users is a considerably good one which can be better.
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, November 5, re-introduced a bill that will regulate the use of social media in the country. The bill, ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019’ was one of the 11 bills read for the first time at the floor of the house.
The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Mohammed Sani Musa, said the bill was aimed at curbing fake news on the internet. One question that arises here is; “Can fake news really be curbed?”
However, this is not the first time the government has mulled the passing of a bill to regulate the use of social media.
In 2015, there was a sponsored anti-social media bill which did not have the support of many Nigerians.
Also, on June 26, 2018, the Chairman of the Nigerian Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, Abdul Fatai Buhari, announced that the Nigerian government lay before the Senate a Bill set to regulate social media because many Nigerians were misusing it.
Those in support of the bill have echoed that the law would allow for censorship of libelous or defamatory material on social media whilst also making it possible for persons inciting hate or making hate speeches on social media to be liable to arrest and prosecution.
Those who have kicked against the bill have opined that it would negate citizens’ fundamental rights and restrict freedom of expression.
Parts of the proposed bill mentions that the government gets to determine what is a falsehood. What this could mean is that the only way to not fall short of the rule is to not say anything with political implications.
Whilst Social media is a tool for connection with friends, family, colleagues and new people, it has now become a big politicking tool. It should be recalled that the ruling party and the candidates under the aegis of the party have heavily invested in social media during elections to win more supporters in their favour. Also, social media have been used to start social movements such as #MeToo, #Occupy Nigeria, #Bring Back Our Girls, etc. Another important use of Social media is that the electorate uses it to hold the elected government accountable. A social media bill might suppress the ability of the electorate to do this.
This link shows the video of a Senator who opposed the bill explaining his reasons why
What do you think about the Social Media Bill? Drop your comments in the comment box.
Written by: Animashaun Daniel