Lai: Why FG must regulate social media

Lai said the government does not intend to impair free speech.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [Twitter]

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says there is no going back on the federal government's decision to regulate the social media.

The minister said this at a meeting with online-news publishers in Abuja on Thursday, November 14, 2019.

Mohammed said the government does not intend to stifle free speech or muzzle the media as widely claimed.

The minister maintained that the government will leave no stone unturned in sanitising the social media space "because of the inherent dangers".

“In the first instance, we have not told anyone how we plan to go about the regulation. This is because this will not be a unilateral process. It will involve all stakeholders coming together to chart the path forward,” the minister said.

“Let me announce here that we have just kick-started the process. We have dispatched letters inviting representatives of the media, civil society, technology and security experts, online publishers, bloggers, relevant agencies of government, etc, for this purpose.

“In the second instance, there are many options open to us in regulating the social media. Apart from enacting new laws, we can also leverage on technology, working with the big techies like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram to check the spread of fake news and hate speech. 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.

“Finally, and for the avoidance of doubt, while we welcome a robust debate on this issue, the criticisms in certain quarters will not stop us from going ahead with our efforts to sanitize the social media space. It is the right thing to do in the circumstances,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Senate has passed, for first reading, a bill proposing death penalty for anyone who spreads hate speech.

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