FG to impose Twitter conditions on other social media

Interactive media platforms

The Federal Government has said it will amend its relevant statutes and code to enforce the operational conditions of Twitter in Nigeria on other social media platforms.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Cairo at a meeting with his counterpart, Egypt Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr Amir Talaat.

Mohammed said: “The beauty of the engagement with Twitter is immense. Whatever applies to Twitter will apply to all other social media platforms, be it WhatsApp, Facebook or any other.

“That is why we will be having a retreat to amend  the NBC Act and the NBC Code to incorporate these new gains we made with the engagement with twitter,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was on the sidelines of a bilateral discussion with Africa Export Import Bank (Afreximbank), on how Nigeria can access funding to support its growing creative industry.

Afreximbank had earlier promised to offer financial support to ensure the completion of Nigeria’s Digital Switch Over (DSO) project before the year ends, for which private operators had requested for a $165 million facility from the bank.

The DSO is the process of transiting from analogue television broadcasting technology to digital terrestrial television broadcasting.

Mohammed had led some private sector stakeholders involved in DSO to Afreximbank to assist them on how they can source funds to complete the wholly private sector financially-driven project.

In his interaction with Talaat, the minister disclosed that Nigeria was amending its National Broadcasting Act and Broadcasting Code to ensure that all online platforms operating in the country must comply with stipulated conditions.

He said the decision was borne out of the recent development on suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria, and the agreement reached before the suspension was lifted.

The beauty of the engagement with Twitter is immense. Whatever applies to Twitter will apply to all other social media platforms, be it WhatsApp, Facebook or any other.

Agreements with Twitter

On the agreements reached with Twitter, which would also be applicable to other online platforms, Mohammed said the micro blogging site had agreed to open a Nigerian office within the first quarter of 2022.

He said Twitter agreed to appoint a designated country representative within one month of lifting its suspension while its global policy team would also be available to engage directly with the government

The minister said Twitter agreed to meet all regulatory demands, including Companies and Allied Matters Act, Nigeria Communication Commission laws and rules and National Broadcasting Commission Code.

He explained: “Twitter has agreed to comply with all payable taxes as they are operating under the Nigerian laws and this they agreed to do within one week of restoring their operations.

“Twitter agreed to immediately work with the Federal Government in the area of code of conduct which is in line with global best practices

“Twitter agreed to immediately enrol Nigerians in its Law Enforcement portals and Partners Support Portal.

“The law enforcement portal will provide dedicated channels for the Nigerian law enforcement agencies to escalate reports on contents that violate the code of conduct or the national laws.

“Similarly, the partner support portal provides a direct channel for the government to engage Twitter staff to manage prohibited contents.”

Mohammed reiterated that Twitter operation was not suspended in Nigerian because they pulled down an offensive post by the President as being reported, but because its platform was used to destabilise Nigeria and create disunity and heat up the polity.

He continued: “We met with a barrage of knocks, we were accused of running an authoritarian government, trying to infringe on freedom of press, violating the constitution but we were sure in our mind of what we were doing.

“We were glad that after seven months of serious engagement with Twitter, we can say that what we achieved is what the suspension of the operations of twitter was all about.”

Responding, Talaat said Egypt had similar challenges in the area of dissemination of the government’s policies and programmes, adding that he was a recent victim of fake news report which was very devastating to him.

To combat the menace, he said a department was established in the office of the Prime Minister where they monitor on hourly basis what kind of fake news was being cooked up.

He said the government would immediately react to such news by giving the truthful perspective to the issue.

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