By Oluwatobi Opusunju
Social media buffs and commentators, watch it! The government is watching you. Worried by spate of criticisms against it and rising incidents of online hate speech as Nigeria grapples with religious and ethnic violence, government wants to unplug ‘state enemies.’
According to reports, a security meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja this week has directed security agencies to monitor conversations and posts of prominent social media buffs as part of the processes of putting hate mongers to check.
New laws are already in the works to prosecute offenders, IT Edge News can report.
Globally, governments are worried by what is now considered to be ‘digital menace’ of social media. France has law in the works to apprehend online and social media ‘hate spread.’ Germany already has laws to make social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter accountable for hate posts on their windows.
In Kenya, over 170 social media accounts were flagged down some months back following the controversial election that returned President Uhuru Kenyatta to power. Hate speech attracts stiff penalty in Kenya.
In Nigeria, authorities are worried that if stiff penalties are not imposed on online hate propagation, violent conflicts will grow unchecked.
The Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan Ali while speaking after the Abuja meeting described the trend of hate speech on social media as worrisome. “Relevant security agencies should as a matter of urgency tackle the propagation of hate speeches through the social media, particularly by some notable Nigerians,” he said.