With the spread of uncontrolled controversy, fake news, and bully acts on the media, passing the Social media bill in Nigeria becomes a long-standing argument.
While there are uncertainties on the real aim of the social media bill in Nigeria, every Nigerian must understand what the bill stands for. Understanding the entails of the bill goes as far as deliberating on the disadvantages of the social media bill in Nigeria.
There are speculations that the social media bill came in favor of Nigerians. This theory pushes the notion that the social media bill will offer protection from internet falsehood and manipulation.
However, many internet users are wary of the stand of the government and the masses. Loud cries keep ranting the air with echoes of “say no to social media bill,” contradicting the need to regulate social media in Nigeria.
The purpose of this article is to enlighten you on the basics of the social media bill in Nigeria and what you need to know about it.
Social Media Bill in Nigeria and the use of the internet
According to statistics by World Bank, roughly 42% of Nigeria’s population are internet users. Data postulates that there are 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria as of January 2021. This figure indicates a rise from the 92.3 million Nigerian internet users in 2018.
There are projections that the score of internet users in Nigeria will rise to 65.3 percent by 2025.
This massive use of the internet and social media boils to its advantages to gaining access to jobs. However, it also includes networking, sales, and business transactions.
It is inarguable that the internet has done more good than harm to the economy of Nigeria. However, it is becoming obvious that this privilege/right can be easily abused, placing the nation’s affairs at great risk.
The government keeps seeking extra measures to curtail excesses. There is always an introduction of a bill to regulate activities on social media.
The reintroduction of the social media bill in Nigeria pushed the need to regulate the use of social media in Nigeria. As a result, the Protection from internet falsehood and manipulation bill 2019 (Nigeria) got sponsorship from Sen. Mohammed Sani Musa.
The senator proposed that the bill will oversee the process of reducing the publication and spread of fake news on the internet. Nevertheless, the social media bill in Nigeria wasn’t embraced with peaceful arms, as many citizens kicked against it. They saw the social media bill as a well-calculated move to censor activities on the internet and infringe the freedom of speech.
This is not the first time that the Nigerian government saw sponsorship or a proposal of a social media bill. It seems the Nigerian government will stop at nothing till it achieves this dream. There have been occurrences for authorization of the social media bill and passing it into law. Ranging from the anti-social bill 2015 to the 2018 social media bill from the Nigerian senate committee on affairs of ICT and cybercrime, social media keeps finding a way to the news after a long while.
Social Media Bill in Nigeria and what it means to Nigerians
The Social media bill has so many sensitive lines that every Nigerian should be conversant about.
However, here are important things you should know about the social media bill in Nigeria.
· Senator Musa insinuates that the social media bill is not pushed to target media voices. He poses the notion that the bill is not a deliberate action to silence voices on the media.
· Offenders of the social media bill will pay a punishable fine of 150,000 Naira or risk a jail term of three months.
· Defaulting agencies that refuse to comply with sanctions will be subject to a fine of 5-10 million naira. In addition, these agencies will have penalties because they failed to remove the false information as instructed.
Social media bill 2021 and Freedom of Speech
It is not a far-fetched truth that social media is a ground for sensitization and communication. Ranging from political campaigns to activism, social media is a powerful tool. But, unfortunately, social media does not only pose adverse effects but has also helped uncover corrupt practices in the nation. This includes bringing swift justice to the victim and ensuring that leaders are accountable.
However, amidst the good that social media stands for, there are lots of ills going unnoticed. Social media stands as a quick zone to blackmail someone. Personalities and public figures can become victims of cyberbullying or character defamation.
While it is unarguable that censoring social media poses a move to infringe the rights of citizens, it might also be beneficial to society.
Although citizens have their freedom of speech, freedom after speech is never guaranteed. The consequences of what you said will always remain.
Social media offers a free ground to spread hate speeches, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. These theories are strong tools to promote anarchy in society.
The social media bill, as portrayed by the senator, aims at restoring sanity in Nigeria. This will make it easier to arrest and prosecute individuals who will try to disrupt the nation’s peace.
Nevertheless, it is justifiable to raise voices on the disadvantages of the social media bill in Nigeria. This is because the government might capitalize on it to unleash excessive restrictions upon the citizens.
The average Nigerian sees the social media bill as a threat. This rises from speeches and actions of national leaders. Several federal ministers of Nigeria, the presidency, and lawmakers. From responses to the End SARS protest and other activism movements and campaigns in the nation. The tone of the government towards the citizens is obvious.
There are possibilities that the social media bill in Nigeria will turn out poorly than planned. However, regulation of social media is a good way to go for every developing country. Nevertheless, it is important to put checks and balances to avoid infringement of human rights. Therefore, the government’s stand on the true intentions of the social media bill in Nigeria must remain unwavering.