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FG Insists On Social Media Regulation, Moves To Set Up Committee To Design It’s Modus Operandis

Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Nigeria’s Federal Government has made it clear that the hues and cries from certain quarters will not stop it from going ahead to regulate and sanitise social media operating in the country.

To this end, an all encompassing stakeholder committee will soon be set up to fashion out the operational methods of such control.
Speaking to members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) today, November 14 in his office in Abuja, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the idea of sanitising social media is not meant to stifle freedom of information.
He said that irrespective of where people stand on the debate going on in regard to regulating social media, it is generally agreed that the hate speech and fake news inherent in the social media constitute dangers to the unity of the country  describing the purveyors of such hate speech and fake news as anarchists and non-patriots.
“We thank everyone who has spoken out, and we hope the debate will continue. However, we have noticed that most of those who are opposed to the
planned regulation of the social media have based their argument on
two main points:
“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,
“That the planned regulation is aimed at stifling free speech and
muzzling the media, especially those critical of the Administration
“In the first instance, we have not told anyone how we plan to go
about the regulation. This is because this will not be a unilateral
process. It will involve all stakeholders coming together to chart the
path forward. 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
“In the second instance, there are many options open to us in regulating the social media. Apart from enacting new laws, we can also leverage on technology, working with the big techies like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram to check the spread of fake news and hate speech. It is therefore premature for anyone to say ‘Oh, there are enough laws already to deal with social media deviants’. In essence,
the committee we plan to set up will determine the best option for us
to use.
“Again, the fear of stifling free speech or muzzling the media is totally unfounded. We have no such plan. As we speak, people are on the social media criticizing the Administration. We have no problem
with that, because it is part of democracy. People are using the
traditional media to criticize the Administration. Why not?
“This is a democracy and there should be 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.”
Lai Mohammed stressed that 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
He said that while the government welcome a robust debate on this issue, “the criticisms in certain quarters will not stop us from going ahead with our efforts to sanitize the social media
space. It is the right thing to do in the circumstances. And we are not alone in doing this. Countries around the world are as concerned as we are, and they are doing something about the social media. The list is long: Germany, UK, Singapore, China, South Korea, Uganda,
Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, etc.”

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