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Twitter Writes FG, Opts For Dialogue Over Sanctions

The Federal Government on Tuesday confirmed that Twitter had formalized its desire to seek dialogue on issues leading to the indefinite suspension of its operations in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, confirmed this when he featured on a Radio Nigeria call-in programme – “Politics Nationwide’’.

A news report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted the minister as saying that Twitter management has written the government seeking dialogue to end the impasse created by the latter’s suspension of its services nationwide.

The minister explained: “I can confirm that Twitter has written the Federal Government that they are ready to talk. As we have always maintained, the door is not locked and we are open minded but Twitter must work toward it.”

While restating government’s stance on its determination not to tolerate any media platform that would be used to undermined Nigeria’s political stability, Mohammed said that one of the conditions for Twitter to resume operations in Nigeria was that there must be an agreement as to what contents it could post.

According to him, Twitter and other similar platforms must also register as a Nigerian company, be licensed and be guided by the rules set by the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) and also pay corporate taxes.

Citing the examples of other climes where regulations of the social and online media platforms have been put in place to justify the Nigerian government’s stance, Mohammed said most countries were just appreciating that the platforms were becoming more powerful than even government and that they needed to be regulated.

He said: “Singapore, Algeria, Pakistan, Turkey regulate the social media, Australia has done so. Even EU that does not have particular laws on social media has made recommendations in a white paper.”

For instance, the minister said that the UK initiated a new law which would make social media companies to be fined up to 18 million pounds if they failed to stamp out online abuses.

The minister recalled that Google was fined 220 million Euros (about N110 billion) on June 7 by French Competition Regulator for abusing its dominance in the online advertising market in France.

Similarly, he noted the Federal Cabinet of Pakistan had approved a new set of rules to regulate social media, adding that based on the rules in the country, companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even TikTok were required to register and open offices.

Mohammed explained that regulation of the social media was not tantamount to stifling press freedom.

He explained: “We must not confuse press freedom with irresponsibility. How can you stay in your country and allow your own platform to be used to propagate war in another country?

“The suspension of Twitter is to ensure that no particular platform is used to cause war in Nigeria. Secondly, to ensure that whoever is making money in Nigeria must be made to pay tax. Our appeal to Nigerians is that they should understand where we are coming from.

“We have no intention to stifle people’s freedom or to cut off the source of livelihood of anybody. There must be a country devoid of war before we can talk of freedom and a source of living”, the minister assured

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had on June 4 suspended indefinitely the operations of the microblogging and social networking services provider in Nigeria, alleging persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

As a way of forestalling the use of such platforms for damaging impact on Nigeria’s national cohesion, the government immediately directed the NBC to commence the process of licensing all Over the Top (OTT) media service being offered to viewers through the Internet and social media operations in the country.

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