By Olusegun Oruame and Oluwatobi Opusunju
Nigeria is seeking for the assistance of social media giants: Facebook, Twitter and Google to fight online hate speech and checkmate propaganda by groups it deemed dangerous to its national interest. A presidency source told IT Edge News at the weekend in Abuja that government was already talking directly with these companies to seek their cooperation to stamp out hate posts intended to cause disaffection against other groups and encourage violence against the state.
“We do not expect too much but the cooperation of these companies to stamp out hate, and help promote peace among online communities that include millions of Nigerians,” said the source.
Specifically, government wants Nigeria-focused hate posts, tweets, video streaming that are largely fake or doctored, to be censored and denied space within the social media.
Social media companies are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of countries and United Nation bodies worried that the web-media windows have become recruiting and battle grounds for terrorists and hate mongers. Germany recently led other European Union countries to begin a swathe of regulations that make social media companies accountable for posts that lead to inter-communal tensions and violence. According to the new laws in Germany, Facebook and others risks penalty for hate speech on their platforms.
Twitter recently announced it removed a total of 299,649 accounts linked to terrorists groups for the “promotion of terrorism” in the first six months of this year. According to Twitter Inc, 95% of the accounts that were taken down were being flagged up by the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) tools designed to weed out such accounts.
Facebook Inc also recently announced the addition of AI features on all its platforms including Instagram to filter out hate speech and terrorist activities. “If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner – whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down,” said founder Mark Zuckerberg in a statement.
The presidency source said Nigeria is only officially joining other governments across the world clamouring for social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google to put in place measures to fight online radicalization which is often carried out by violent Islamist groups. He said Nigeria is particularly worried that Boko Haram, Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and other iconoclastic groups conveniently use these web platforms unchecked to “instigate fear, promote terrorism, and hold the international community to ransom.”
After the recent bombing on a London commuter train, U.S President Donald Trump tweeted that “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”
Nigeria is considering several options to checkmate the use of social media to promote disunity and wage war against the state. “Government will unfold its plans in the weeks ahead,” said the source.