Talkaboutmag captured all of the reactions to the Social Media Bill passing second reading here. Asides that, here are top 5 likely reasons you should be weary of the anti social media bill. For more details, go to here.
- It is a bipartisan bill: Unlike what people think, the anti social media bill is a bipartisan bill between a Senator from the ruling APC and the opposition PDP. This may be a huge argument for some who have held that the only difference between the two main parties in Nigeria is their names. Others think that at the end of the day, the Nigerian elites have a meeting point which does not often favor the ordinary Nigerian. Senators Elisha Abbo from the opposition PDP and Sani Musa of the APC are the sponsors of the Protection against False Statement Bill. However, there is another bill that tries to establish a National Commission for Prohibition of Hate Speech, and that is championed by Mohammed Tahir Monguno of Borno State (APC).
- There are two bills targeting “our dear social media” in Nigeria. The first one is the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech and the second one is the Protection of Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and other related offenses. The latter is often referred to as the anti-social media bill or the social media bill. This is because of its outright affront to the playing ground of most Nigerians; social media. There has been a lot of reactions and outcries against the bills, stating that there are rules in place to regulate hate speech and falsehood in the country. Other people think the Senators with their lofty salaries could spend their time passing laws like ‘death penalty for corrupt politicians and individuals’.
- The Protection of Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and other related offenses bill is way more lethal than what we have across the world. In the U.S, the government is advocating for the social media giants to regulate and take down hate speeches as and at when due. However, in Nigeria and Africa, the government threatens to a) Allow law enforcement shut down internet at will if a person makes a false statement or hate speech in a certain area. B) three year jail term for making statements that “diminish public confidence.” C) Previously lists death penalty as punishment for hate speech.
- The Protection against falsehood bill targets some people like software developers, writers, bloggers etc. For instance, Internet Falsehood or anti-Social Media bill reads, “A person who, whether in or outside Nigeria, solicits, receives or agrees to receive any financial or other materials benefits as an inducement or reward for providing any service, knowing that the service will be used in the transmission of false statements in Nigeria shall be guilty of an offense if in fact the service is used in such transmission.” If a Software developer builds a blog and that blog is erroneously used to transmit information deemed false by the government, then the Software developer is in trouble.
- What you can do to stop these bills? Contact your Senators. There is already an App developed by one of Nigeria’s Software Developer and internet user where one can access all the numbers of the 109 Senators in Nigeria. You can keep calling them until they pick. The app also contains their email and you can keep emailing them until they reply. With this, you are able to galvanize support across parties for Senator Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu East who is currently fighting the Bill. For now, the bill has passed second reading and it takes just one step for the bill to climb to Aso Rock for assent. When this happens, is it likely that Mr. President will discard the bill the way he discarded the Electoral Act?