Protests greet FG’s planned regulation of social media

Avid users of Internet-based social networking sites on Wednesday protested against the planned regulation of social media use in the country.
The Federal Government through the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, in a statement, had disclosed that the agency would roll out policies and legal framework for the exercise.

Dikki reportedly said the agency was committed to ending “all manner of things being uploaded on the various platforms of the social media.”
Many of the posted materials, he said, were done without “recourse to age and sensibilities of the users.”
But a cross-section of Nigerians, have expressed concern on the development, with many of them saying the FG’s plan was just a subtle way to limit the freedom of expression they enjoy on the new media platforms.
Faulting the move, they said the plan was not in the best interest of Nigerians.

A reader on to ladunliadi.blogpot.com particularly described the move as an assault on free speech. The reader noted that the social media is supposed to be a place for Nigerians to freely express themselves without fear.

The reader added, “What concerns Bureau of Public Enterprises with social media. There is the need to remind the Federal Government that regulating the social media is like controlling freedom of speech and movement.
“They should focus on the important things bordering on the economy, education, health, manufacturing, exportation, solid mineral exploration, and agriculture. How can the FG say it wants to control what a person does on his Twitter, Facebook , Instagram or Google+ page. It cannot!  It is like telling people who they can invite into their homes. It is a personal space and does not concern BPE.”

Others who disapproved of the proposed regulation also wondered why the FG finds it easier to deny the citizens freedom of expression rather than implement people-oriented policies.
They accused the FG of attempting to intimidate Nigerians on social media by silencing and preventing them from expressing their opinion on maladministration in the polity.

A member of a popular online forum, nairaland.com, identified simply as Chuks wrote, “So the FG wants us to keep quiet on social media while the citizens’ sufferings linger. Expressing ourselves on social media is one potent way we can use to make the world to know what we are passing through. Now, should we die in silence on account of social media regulation?”

Describing the proposal as an autocratic move, others said the social media was not the problem of the country.
Sunny T on nairaland.com said, “This shows the state and size of confusion the Federal Government is rooted in. Of all the blatant problems: strike by university teachers, epileptic power supply; poor state of infrastructure, bad leadership, corruption, and constitutional imbalances, among others, the FG sees regulating the use of social media as the immediate thing to tackle. It’s a shame.”

Also, one Austushi described those planning the censorship as jokers. “These guys are jokers! What a confused government! The leadership has refused to give us a better life, yet, they want to restrict us from the use of those social media platforms that give us joy.”

 An anonymous commentator on ladunliadi.blogspot.com said the FG had no moral justification to carry out the plan, linking the decision to the backlash political office-holders receive on social media.

“This law will be baseless. They should go and implement laws against corruption first before they start taking a toll on the citizens’ freedom of expression. I remember when President Goodluck Jonathan joined Facebook. The social media relationship was so cordial that fans were happy with him. He got all the needed support and encouragement from his Facebook friends. But oga GEJ was not sincere with us. Yes, that is the word. Everything later backfired as he started receiving criticisms online. However, this one they are planning will never work,” the anonymous commentators said.

However, some other commentators argue that the plan was a step in the right direction. According to those who share this view, having a form of regulation on the social media space will ensure that people watch what they say and post online.

“Regulating the social media in Nigeria is long overdue. It is annoying the way people use social media to destroy the government and peddle lies. If not checked, it could become a problem in future. The Nigerian social media space is just too free,” one Chronique wrote on nairaland.com.

Punch


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