Youth Minister says social media regulation will be done constitutionally

The minister says the government has the responsibility to make sure there's some sort of control.

The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, says the regulation of social media is not about censorship (CFAMEDIA)

The regulation of social media by the government has been a controversial subject with many critics accusing the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of attempting to suppress free speech.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has led the government's campaign to regulate the social media, using the easy spread of fake news to make his point.

The topic has become central again following the social media coordination of the recent protests against police brutality across the country.

Dare said during an interview on Channels TV on Monday, November 2, 2020 that the events that have played out over the course of the protests have exposed the dangers of fake news which he said was allowed to run on social media unchecked.

The minister said the Buhari administration had the option to restrict the social media during the nationwide demonstrations "at the push of a button", but opted to not do it because of its respect for the freedom of expression.

He said, "Even during the #EndSARS protests, the country had an option (to regulate social media). The country never went for that final option.

"The cyberspace was not shut down, and this shows a government committed to the rights of freedom and association of every citizen of the country."

Dare said everyone is worried about the negative impact of fake news and that the government has the responsibility to make sure there's some sort of control which is said is regulation, not censorship.

The 54-year-old said there must be some level of responsibility and punishment to those that will create chaos out of mischief in the country.

He said whatever is to be done by the government will be done without violating certain provisions of the constitution that have to do with freedom of expression.

"Whatever is going to happen around the social media (regulation) will be along the laws of our country and I trust the National Assembly will do right by every single Nigerian and guided properly by the Nigerian constitution," he said.

When challenged about how fake news did not start with the emergence of social media, the minister said the speed of multiplication on the internet is worse.

He said there should be a level of trust in the government to do what is right in regulating the social media space.

"We must be able to separate the potential, usefulness of social media as a digital platform, and then we have to deal with the content. What kind of content do we want there?

"As a country, we must start to think of how to curtail fake news," he said.

A social media bill that resurfaced in the Nigerian Senate last year led to widespread outrage but it has not yet been completely withdrawn as demanded by the public.

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