Social Media Bill: FG to Meet Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Others
By Dipo Olowookere
Efforts are being made by federal government to meet owners of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and others.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, informed national executive of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its president, Mr Chris Isiguzo, that the proposed meeting is to carry them along on the anticipated social media bill before the National Assembly.
Mr Mohammed, who said government will not back down on the bill, noted that stakeholders would have to gather to choose the best available options for regulating social media so as to clampdown on hate speech and fake news.
”Let me be clear: We are going ahead with our plan to stop, as much as we can, the anarchists, non-patriots and purveyors of fake news and hate speeches.
“No responsible government will sit by and allow these purveyors of fake news and hate speech a free reign. That’s why many countries of the world are taking measures to regulate the social media,” Mr Mohammed said.
He listed the options open to the government in regulating the social media as including technology, legislation and the use of regulatory bodies, saying, “It is up to the stakeholders to decide the best option.”
“But we have also taken the initiative to meet, very soon, with the platform owners, like Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Twitter and Instagram, among others, to engage them on the way forward,” the Minister said.
He called on NUJ to lead the ongoing efforts to rid the social media of fake news and hate speech, emphasising that it was in the interest of the organisation and other media bodies to be in the vanguard of the campaign.
“As a matter of fact, the NUJ and other media professional bodies should take the lead in sanitizing the social media space, because they will be the first victim when the people lose confidence in the media due to the reckless actions of non-journalists and purveyors of fake news and hate speech,” he said.
The Minister stressed that the plan by federal government to regulate the social media was not aimed at gagging journalists or stifling free speech, saying “only the purveyors of fake news and hate speech need to be worried.”
He assured that the federal government will not act unilaterally in deciding the strategy to adopt in regulating the social media, saying, “We will work with stakeholders, including the NUJ, Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Civil Society, Online Publishers, Bloggers, etc.”
According to him, while the debate on the social media regulation has been robust, with some commentators supporting the plan and others opposing it, the federal government will not relent in its quest to inject sanity into the social media.