George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Federal Government has restated its resolve to regulate the activities of the Social Media which it claimed was being used for the spread of fake news and hate speech.
Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammad stated this at the annual roundtable on Cultural Orientation in Owerri, Imo State.
The minister, who was represented at the event which theme was: “Youth, social media and cultural development in Nigeria” by a Director in the ministry, Mrs.Memunat Idah-Lah, said the role of the Nigerian youth as key drivers of development and cultural ambassadors as well as the value of the social media in contemporary times have continued to attract the attention of government and development experts.
“The key issue slated for discussion from the theme of this conference is the social media. Permit me to use this opportunity to reiterate the position of government that the social media needs to be regulated.The resolve of government to regulate the platform is not designed to hamper freedom of expression or gag public discourse as being alleged, rather, it is to prevent its abuse and the negative consequences.
The phenomenon of hate speech, fake news and other forms of criminality which features regularly on the social media have the potential to harm the nation’s security, national unity and our overall national interest.
“It is important to note that our position is in tandem with global best practices. Most countries including the advanced democracies are adopting one form of regulation or another. However, in our case, we collaborate with stakeholders in determining the best option for our dear country.”
But Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who was represented by Ikenna Emeh, said what the Federal Government needs to regulate is the content and not the use of social media in the country.
He pointed out the Federal government needs to make a distinction between Hate Speech and regulation of the social media.
“There is every need to regulate the content of the social media and not the use of the social media in the country and it is important that the Federal government because there is difference between hate speech and regulation of use of social media content.”
Earlier, Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Louis Eriomala said ,” While we appreciate the enormous benefits to be derived from responsibly using the Internet and social media , we are deeply concerned about the negative consequences of its misuse on our Culture and the future of our youths.
According to him this concern has resulted in several countries adopting one form of regulation or the other to defeat the illegal activities in the social media.
“In this regard, the Institute fully supports the regulation of the social media platform . It is gratifying to note the assurances from the Senate President Lawan Ahmed and the Minister of Information and Culture , Alhaji Lai Muhammad that a final decision would be reached after a Robust Stakeholders engagement.”