The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed’s call for the regulation of Social Media has attracted a huge debate with more Nigerians and institutions calling on the government to rescind its decisions to regulate the social media. However, the Minister noted for the umpteenth time that the biggest challenge facing the country is the issue of fake news and misinformation occasioned by the social media. BARBARA NEGBEJIE sought the views of some Nigerians. Enjoy it.
‘Social media should be improved on, not regulated’
I don’t think social media should be regulated, if anything it should be improved on. Social Media platforms should improve on technology that flags false information or information that endorses crime or violence. Social media is the fastest way to send information; it’s also the best way to access information Social Media has its pros and cons like all media platforms. People need to be taught how to use Social Media, they should learn the difference between disinformation and misinformation. They should learn the harm in forwarding information not researched, learn how to check links and know the sources of information. They should also be taught the importance of verifying information before sharing. Regulations are important for the sanity of a Society but the intent behind regulations is also very important. Education is how Nations condition and socialize their citizens.
• Chioma Mimaka
‘If its use constitutes a threat to the corporate existence of the country, then, the needful should be done’
The proposal by the Federal government to regulate the social media has remained on the front burner for a long time. For the resistance of Nigerians and the international community, it would have been a mission accomplished. So it is definitely not surprising if the government at the federal level capitalises on the #ENDSARS protest to revigorate its plans to regulate the social media irrespective of the numerous benefits of the new media to mankind. Prior to the advent of the social media it’s a known fact what the people go through to get as well as disseminate information. It is also on record that the New Media has remained a pain in the neck of so many of its users who do not apply caution to its usage as it has confirmed that the world is indeed a Global village. You can sit in the comfort of your room and globetrot with the assistance of your handset. The advent of the new media have also simplified alot of human endeavour, this is clearly demonstrated in the yet to be gotten over #ENDSARS protest by the Nation’s youths. Without prior notice, the youths gradually converged on various parts of the country to address a common cause with everyone of them speaking on how they have been affected by the cause, with determination to achieving their aim before the struggle was highjacked by elements with ulterior motives. No doubt the Social media have to a very large extent remained a veritable tool for globalization and integration. If the users are enlightened on its proper usage, there may not be any need for its regulation. On the other way round, if its use constitutes a threat to the corporate existence of the country, then, the needful should be done.
• Iyabo Wale-Eri
‘Regulation should not be left for government alone but be entrusted to an independent body’
Social media is an avenue that makes information available to a wider range of the citizens. Without it information dissemination would be limited especially with the irregular power supply in Nigeria. The social media is also a window for the citizens to make their input on government policies. It could be said that social media is the voice of the voiceless. This also offers opportunities to the government to have a wider range of response to any issue raised. However despite the huge advantages of the social media, it has also been used to deceive unsuspecting innocent citizens into believing a lot of falsehood. The peddlers of fake news have actually made innocent citizens to either lose their valuables or get into trouble. In view of the above, the plan by government to regulate the use of social media is in the right direction. However the regulation should not only be left for government alone but be entrusted to an independent body so that the government would not use the opportunity to cage their political opponent
. • Nnena Eze
‘Why should a government with a fairly high human rights violation record want to regulate social media?’
“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty.” (Exodus 23:1 , 7 NRSV-CI) The above quote from the scriptures is one of several that emphasizes the fact that ‘Freedom’ (including speech) ‘without responsibility is dangerously chaotic’. It could lead to deaths of innocent and destruction of properties. This truth applies to not just the people but the leaders too. Guided by the scripture, I believe an invention such as social media, just like all historical inventions has the capacity to be used for good or for evil and as such should be responsibly guided with the intention to harness the good and minimize the bad. Responsibly guiding information on social media and indeed on any platform involves contributing to the truth and not controlling the whole narrative even if there are dissenting views. The main issue around regulating social media is the perceived intention of the would be (government) regulators, resulting in questions such as the following to be asked: 1. Why should a government with a fairly high human rights violation record want to regulate social media? 2. What is the place of whistle blowing on hidden malpractices in the regulation? 3. Are current laws not sufficient to address cases of libel and false reports? Why the need for a separate regulation? History has shown us that when government seeks to ‘control’ the narrative rather than ‘contribute’ to the narrative human rights abuses gets escalated and normalized. The narrative of Pharaoh about the potential economic collapse of Egypt must be balanced by the narrative of Moses about a need for freedom. Be guided
. • Emeka Ezenagu