The Federal government has once again stated its position regarding social media, saying that it will only regulate it and not shut it down.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made this known on Saturday, October 31 during a solidarity visit to The Nation newspapers and Sporting Life, following the October 21, 2020 attack on the organization’s corporate headquarters by hoodlums who hijacked the #ENDSARS protests.
He maintained that the attack which was “clearly premeditated and intended to silence the voice of the nation” was not just an attack on Vintage Press Limited which is the publishers of The Nation and Sporting Life, but also on free press and democracy.
The Information Minister assured that “the government will continue to support responsible journalism”, and have reached out to all the major stakeholders, including Google, Facebook, NUJ, Guild of Editors, bloggers, and social media influencers to fashion out a policy that will make social media platforms responsible.
In his words, “I know some observers may wonder how the minister can describe the attack on The Nation as attack on free press and on democracy, whereas a few days ago, he canvassed for regulation of social media.
“I say to such observers that there is no contradiction in what I said before and what I am saying now. This government has respect for the free press. What we are against is irresponsible use of social media and fake news.
“We did not start this campaign against fake news yesterday. In 2017, we devoted an entire National Council on Information meeting to address the issues of fake news and hate speech.
“I remember I said that day that there is a new epidemic coming to consume the world. That epidemic is fake news. That epidemic will pose great danger to global peace and security.
“In 2018, we followed it up by launching a national campaign against fake news and hate speech. These were because we knew the danger there. We did not, at any time, say we would kill the internet.
“We did not say social media must be closed down, never! Social media is here to stay and it would be antithesis to democracy if one makes an attempt to shut down the social media.”
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