#EndSARS: FG Must Regulate Social Media – Lai Mohammed (Video)
The Federal Government on Thursday, made it known that it will regulate social media as part of efforts aimed at reducing fake news.
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed who made this known at a press conference in Abuja, said that contrary to reports online, it not having plans to shut down the internet or social media.
It said it would only work with stakeholders to regulate social media.
Mohammed noted that social media was used wrongly to cause mayhem in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
He said social media propagated fake news. Adding that celebrities used online platforms to incite people who caused havoc in the wake of the protests.
Watch a part of his speech below:
“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.
“However, we must regulate social media in a manner that it does not become a purveyor of fake news and hate speech.
“Today, the pattern of choice for purveyors of fake news and hate speech is social media. It travels so fast; it disseminates so fast.
“This is why it is important for any country to look at that platform and ensure it is regulated in a manner that does not bring harm not just to the users but to everybody. No country will fold its hands and watch purveyors of fake news and hate speech destabilise it.
“And it is as if the world is not learning. In 1994, 800,000 lives were lost in Rwanda as a result of hate speech. One radio station in particular was largely responsible for this. The same thing happened in Cambodia, etc.
“So, when we talk about regulating social media, we are simply saying regulate it so as to ensure responsible use of the social media.
He said “We do not want to be misunderstood. We are also asking for freedom of the press because no democracy can survive without freedom of the press.
“We have tried to reach out to all the major stakeholders, including Google, Facebook, NUJ, Guild of Editors, bloggers, social media influencers, etc; let’s sit down together and fashion out a policy that will make our social media platforms responsible.
“Even the owners of these platforms are talking about regulation now.”
On lawmakers opposing the planned regulation of social media, the Minister added;
“The executive arm of the government is not limiting its interest in the regulation of social media to just legislation. Our purpose is to get all the stakeholders, including legislators, to see how we can regulate use of social media for the benefit of all.
“From the interaction I had with the legislative arm of the government during budget defence, I think the challenge we have with the lawmakers so far is this slant that any attempt to regulate social media amounts to an attempt to shut down social media. This is not true. This is what I took pains to explain to the lawmakers.
“In fact, it is impossible to shut down social media. Even the most restrictive governments today are only regulating it. So, we must make it safe for everybody.
“Fake news has caused a lot of havoc on social harmony. I think there is really no point of disagreement between me and lawmakers on this.”
Watch a part of his speech below: