The Minister of Culture and Information Lai Mohammed has said that the federal government is not stopping in its move to get the Social Media Bill passed.
According to the Premium Times, the minister said this at a session with the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers in Abuja.
The bill tagged “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019” has received mostly negative reactions on social media. Lai said the reactions are good, as this is a democracy. He said:
People are using traditional media to criticise the administration. Why not? This is a democracy and there should be a plurality of opinions.
But our concern has to do with the abuse of social media by those who are bent on spreading fake news and hate speech, and the dangers inherent in that are for our national peace and unity. We have no hidden agenda.
As I have said many times, no responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration.
It is, therefore, premature for anyone to say ‘Oh, there are enough laws already to deal with social media deviants’. In essence, the committee we plan to set up will determine the best option for us to use.
Let me say, straight on, that the intense debate – and the debate has indeed been intense – that has been generated by our announcement is a welcome development. This is because the announcement has pushed the issue of social media to the front burner. We can only benefit from such a debate.
We have been monitoring the debate. Some analysts and commentators have supported our plan, while others have opposed it.
An interesting part of the debate has been that even those who oppose the regulation have acknowledged the dangers inherent in the irresponsible use of social media, especially by anarchists and non-patriots. We thank everyone who has spoken out, and we hope the debate will continue.