#EndSARS: We Must Regulate Social Media Before They Destroy Us – Lai Mohammed
The federal government has warned that Nigeria is sitting on a barrel of gunpowder unless the fake news problem is urgently addressed, pushing for regulation of social media in the country.
However, the House of Representatives has warned against suppressing freedom of speech and press.
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed and the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values were divided on Tuesday.
Mohammed has appeared before a commission to protect the 2021 budget proposed by his ministry.
The minister, answering questions from committee members, noted that in the next war to be waged in the country and in the world, it will be possible to conduct social networks, citing the ongoing #EndSARS protests.
Mohammed said the government did not try to shut down the social media space in the country because “social media came to stay.”
However, he stressed the need for policies that regulate social media and control fake news and disinformation.
He said: “The biggest problem Nigeria faces today is fake news and misinformation. Based on this, we devoted an entire meeting of the National Information Council to this issue, after which we launched a nationwide campaign against fake news in July 2018.
“We then said that the next war would be fought without firing a shot, but using fake news. We didn’t stop there. We toured all the media to enlist their support in the fight against fake news. We launched a campaign to regulate social media, which drew heated opposition from stakeholders. We constantly said that if we didn’t regulate social media, they would destroy us. Social media and fake news will not destroy Nigeria.
“The recent #EndSARS war was fought on social media. They mobilized through social media. War today revolves around two things. Smartphones and data, and these guys don’t even watch TV or listen to the radio or read newspapers. You will be shocked that when you start arguing with your kids, they will mention social media. So we need a social media policy in Nigeria and we need to empower various agencies and we need technology to be able to regulate social media. “
The members of the committee, however, warned the minister.
One member, Emmanuel Ogene, warned against any attempt to shut down social media in the country, saying that doing so would be counterproductive and make young people believe there is an attempt to end democracy in the country.
Ogene said it would be wrong to always look at the negative sides of social media without mentioning the positives.
Source: – Punchng