After banning Twitter, Nigeria considers Chinese language mannequin of web regulation – report

Nigeria is considering a similar stance towards Twitter as China is.

Fabian Sommer / picture alliance via Getty Images

  • A local investigation reports that Nigerian officials have reached out to China to discuss regulatory tactics.
  • Nigerian officials have previously called for social media regulation.
  • Twitter remains banned in Nigeria.

After Twitter was banned, Nigeria’s ministers reportedly met with Chinese counterparts to discuss replicating China’s “Great Firewall” in the West African country.

An investigation by the Foundation for Investigative Journalism spoke to a whistleblower who raised concerns about the meeting. Fearing the consequences and pointing out that the meeting was kept secret, the whistleblower was unclear about the extent of the discussions, said Socrates Mbamulu, who led the investigation.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s official spokesman, Garba Shehu, did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the report, Buhari’s chief of staff Ibrahim Gambari and Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohamed met with Chinese officials.

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This is not the first time Nigeria has seen China as a model for cyber security. Last year, the China Africa Project reported that Lai cited China as an example of social media regulation.

“Fake news won’t destroy Nigeria”

The ministry first brought the idea to a meeting of the National Information Council in 2018, but opposition politicians and civil society vehemently opposed any regulation. After the # EndSARS protests, in which thousands of young Nigerians took to the streets against police brutality last October, the minister of information rekindled his campaign to regulate social media.

Using the fight against fake news as the basis of his argument, Lai told the House of Representatives that “social media and fake news will not destroy Nigeria”.

“The latest #endSARS war was fought on social media. You’ve mobilized on social media. The war today is about two things, ”Lai said.

EndSARS protesters occupy Lagos State House of Ass

SARS protesters occupy the parliament building of the state of Lagos in Nigeria on October 9, 2020.

“Smartphones and data … and these young men don’t even watch TV, listen to the radio, or read the newspapers. You’ll be shocked that when you argue with your kids, they quote social media. So we need social media. Politics in Nigeria and we have to strengthen the various authorities and we need technology to be able to regulate the social media. “

Through the so-called Great Firewall, Chinese authorities have successfully regulated the Internet use of more than a billion users. The state-controlled technology blocks access to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google.

It also effectively monitors any form of dissent and has become attractive to African governments looking to block the internet in order to quell criticism.

Meanwhile, Twitter remains banned in Nigeria, killing an estimated 40 million users who rely on the app as a platform for entrepreneurship, political expression and connection.

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