Amid widespread protests across Nigeria decrying issues like soaring food prices and insecurity, President Bola Tinubu has intensified his call for the regulation of social media platforms, branding them a “societal menace” for their potential to propagate misinformation.
Demonstrators flooded the streets wielding banners and placards, expressing frustration over the government’s inability to address pressing issues affecting citizens’ livelihoods.
Tinubu’s remarks were delivered during the Book Presentation of “Nigerian Public Discourse: The Interplay of Empirical Evidence and Hyperbole”, authored by former Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, held in Lagos on Thursday. Represented by his Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, Tinubu emphasized the indispensable role of accurate information in shaping policies and driving national development.
He decried the proliferation of false and misleading content disseminated through social media platforms, stressing the urgency of implementing regulatory measures to curb the spread of misinformation.
Tinubu asserted, “Social media has morphed into a societal menace, necessitating regulation. Many individuals fail to grasp the profound repercussions of their online posts, potentially endangering both society and unwitting consumers of misinformation.”
Underlining the importance of reliable data in policy formulation for Nigeria’s advancement, Tinubu emphasized the necessity of establishing a consensus on truth and reality in governmental interactions with citizens.
In October 2023, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) called on Senate President Godswill Akpabio and House Speaker Tajudeen Abbas to oppose a social media regulation bill, citing concerns over its infringement on Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy.
SERAP cautioned against government attempts to exert pressure on tech giants like Google, YouTube, and TikTok to restrict fundamental human rights under the guise of regulation. The organization argued that such legislation would unjustly criminalize legitimate exercises of human rights.
Earlier reports revealed that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) labeled social media as “a monster” and a significant problem in Nigeria. While acknowledging social media’s role in political participation and governance, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, contended that it did not warrant regulation, as it serves as a platform for freedom of expression.