Following the recent ban on Twitter by the Federal Government, the need to keep all channels of engagement and information, especially social media platforms, with the citizenry open in order for the government to effectively tackle competitive misinformation and the spread of fake news has been emphasised.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships (ARISP) at Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi (SAN), stated this on Thursday, emphasising that the ban on Twitter will ultimately lead to a harvest of misinformation within the country.

Olawuyi, who is also the co-chairman of the Legal Education Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated this while delivering the opening remarks at the Green Institute’s World Environment Day conference.

According to him, “One of the most potent threats to peace and sustainable development in a country is the lack of easily accessible information on government’s activities and programmes. In a quest to actively engage with citizens, government leaders across the world, including Nigeria, have successfully deployed the use of online social networks (OSNs) such as Twitter to provide authentic and readily available information that counter fake news.

“Countries like Canada and the United States even have social media ‘war rooms’ backed with significant budgets, where social media experts actively counter the diffusion of competitive misinformation and fake news about government programmes. So, banning Twitter is like inflicting self-harm at a time of great global uncertainty,” he stated.


Speaking on the economic and national security implications of the Twitter ban, Olawuyi noted that “when government agencies with first-hand information are no longer available on social media, expect a bumper harvest and spread of spurious and unverified information by unscrupulous elements at home and abroad.

“Such nefarious information can spread very quickly in seconds resulting in cascading national security and economic impacts before you can respond offline,” he said.

Speaking on the economic and national security implications of the Twitter ban, Olawuyi noted that “when government agencies with first-hand information are no longer available on social media, expect a bumper harvest and spread of spurious and unverified information by unscrupulous elements at home and abroad.

“Such nefarious information can spread very quickly in seconds resulting in cascading national security and economic impacts before you can respond offline,” he said.

Olawuyi stated further that there is a need for a more strategic response to the legitimate concerns raised by the Federal Government and called for the development of a national policy on social media and new technologies, built on transparency, accountability, participatory development, and other human rights safeguards, in order to achieve win-win outcomes in the use of social media in Nigeria.

He concluded that the government should work with reputable research agencies and institutes in Nigeria to spearhead the development of clear, coherent, and sustainable national policies on new technologies and social media in Nigeria.

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