Nigerian Nollywood actor turned politician, Desmond Elliot, has been in the news for supporting the social media regulation bill which some prominent politicians have also made their support for it known.
Lagos lawmaker, Desmond Elliot (@DesmondOElliot), on the recent events in Lagos and Nigeria:— Pulse Nigeria (@PulseNigeria247) October 29, 2020
"Social media has its negative impact."
"Please celebrities, social media influencers, stop the hatred already." pic.twitter.com/L0rrLtAO6S
Desmond Elliot have however apologized after the outrage.
"I didn't say Nigerian's shouldn't protest." – Desmond Elliot responds to THAT viral video of him pushing for social media regulation.— ARISE News Feed (@ARISEtv) October 30, 2020
Watch his interview with #ARISENews here: https://t.co/ayz3YPgc5z pic.twitter.com/X2ujDqLzAG
Elliot’s stand has sparked a lot of controversy from entertainers and many Nigerian citizens. However, not everyone is against Desmond Elliot as some seem to be seeing a need for Social media control.
I singled out a concern raised by a Nigeriam clergy in support of the social media bill and using the points he raised, I will be offering my own opinion.
While some believe that social media should be regulated, the question however is, who should regulate it? How should it be regulated and who should define the moral codes of this regulation?
His concerns has in regards with the following
• Hate Speech
• Ministry Concerns
• Fake Prophets
• Moral Issues
I’ll highlight these concerns being raised and address them accordingly.
• Hate Speech/Incitement of Violence
Social Media firms are already tackling the issue of misinformation using fact-checkers. Much more needs to be done but it’s something that is already been addressed. Should the government be responsible for regulating facts? NO! It will spell doom as we can only have what they want the world to see and not the truth.
Hate speech and incitement of violence didn’t start on social media. Before the Biafran War and after the Biafran War, there have always been times when certain tribes are attacked and killed on religious or ethnic grounds. Such conflicts started in 1953 and have continued to date. There were no social media then.
How about the Igbo Massacre of 1966 where about 30,000 Igbos were killed in the North? It started with incitement and there was no mobile phone then talk more of social media.
Some of these hate speeches were published in the local newspaper. Before social media, I have always had access to certain information. I love reading and I would visit libraries to read unconventional things.
For example, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB didn’t start with Social Media, there are local newspapers, there are internet radios. Social media is only another channel but whatever activities we see here has always been there.
I don’t think social media should be regulated like the mainstream media. Arise News, Channels and AIT was fines 9 Million Naira by NBC for reporting the #ENDSARS protest in details, we saw what NTA was doing, there was very little information there. That is what our social media will become when the government begins to regulate it. This will also affect the Church in the long run!
FG denied the Lekki shooting with silence, the Army called it Fake News… What would have happened if social media is regulated by the government? Worse things would have happened.
Before social media, there has always been blackmail. There are SMS platforms and we started saying ‘I love you too’ in that platform. People can still use it against us. This simply calls for caution. When people distort our chats, we have our copy of it, we can also screenshot it and prove them wrong. We can also sue such a person as long as we have our copy of the conversation with which we can prove our truth.
If chats should be regulated too, that means we are asking the government to start accessing our private conversations. These things have been happening before social media, fake prophets have always had a field day. Social media helped exposed some of these people.
• Ministry concerns
• Fake prophets
• Moral Issues
These things are not in the hands of the government to control. The Church should address it’s ministry concerns, fake prophets have always had it even without social media and there is no one size-fit definition on what morality is.
Although certain things are thrown to our faces here, we can decide to keep looking at them. Personally, once anyone posts something that is sexually provocative, I quickly unfriend them because things stuck in my head for a long time.
There have always been porn magazines, there have always been 18+ rated contents and while the internet brings us closer to these things, we still have control over them.
– Social media companies should have offices in all countries where they operate profitably and they should employ more hands for adequate fact-checking.
– There are regulations on hate speech but sometimes determining what is hate speech can be tasking. Some can be obvious, some can be subtle. Social media companies should update their algorithms and bots to be able to detect these things faster. Twitter hides stuff like that and you only get to see it when you decide to see it.
– Government shouldn’t control the social media, that is how our voice is been heard at the moment. They should rather keep engaging the owners of these platforms just like Western nations do. These concerns aren’t peculiar to Nigeria or Africa alone.
– Ministry concerns isn’t in the hands of the government or social media owners to address. It should be something ministers address themselves. If someone is deceiving people on social media in the name of ministry, call him out and expose him!