My Take on the Nigerian Government Suspension of Twitter

Mamos Media

In a press release, the Hon Minister of Information office just announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter op in Nigeria because it removed a tweet by President Mohammadou Buhari.
Freedom of speech has limitations globally in all countries. The President can use all of the platforms under the government to communicate. It has many. Buhari can use the platforms to disseminate his thoughts no matter how poorly constructed.
Twitter has standards. It does not belong to Buhari. Twitter has removed many tweets that violate its standards. That is not curtailing freedom of speech. It is maintaining a standard. When Twitter did the same to President Trump, the most powerful President in the world, he did not suspend or shut down Twitter in his country.
Now one is not saying the Twitter decision was correct. However, it has acted within its regulation via a clause in its user agreement that it reserves the right to remove a post or block a user if it considers it necessary.
In the late sixties, a remark that “Brazil is not a serious country” was attributed to the former President of France, Charles de Gaulle. The Brazilian response was, “there is no smoke without fire. De Gaulle is talking nonsense; let us disprove him by rolling up our sleeves.” Twitter deleted Buhari’s offensive Tweet, which violated their rules and earned a ban! Holy Moses! In the age of technology, accurate time information, and ubiquity, is Twitter ban the correct response for a deleted tweet? This Twitter ban is infantile and ill-advised. It is ineffective. Twitterati is a savvy technophile. They can bypass the gates of hell.
Can Nigeria afford this confrontation at this time? This is not 1984. This is not the era of nationalization and expulsion a la Idi Amin style. This looks like an act of desperation.
For instance, I might not allow people to share porn on my wall. Or racial sentiments. So I delete such. Have I curtailed the poster not to do it elsewhere? Have I restricted them from speaking?
All I have done is say, “on my wall, you cannot do this.” Do it elsewhere.
Buhari has banned a platform where many make their living because he was restricted from what a platform decided was a violation of acceptable standards. The decision will escalate the issue. It would have been enough for the government to issue a release disagreeing with Twitter. The government saw it as an abuse of privilege and would take it up with Twitter, etc. The matter would die in a few days.
We are globalizing the issue. Twitter did not ban PMB the way it did Trump. I am not aware the account was shut down either. The tendency is that Twitter will use its massive global reach to demonize Nigeria as intolerant of counter opinions and criticism. We can never match Twitter in this. However, you can be sure other social media platforms will take sides with Twitter. How many do we want to suspend? The PR move will cost us too much. Overall it is negative branding. As matters stand, we are already managing so many socio-economic and political issues on the global stage. Why add this to it?
Now is when we need to court favorable global public opinion deliberately. In a world that’s all closely linked together, an issue like this can affect critical decisions on investment, tourism, borrowing, etc. We do not want to be seen as intolerant of criticism. Overall, the government should reconsider the decision and put it behind. We do not need the distraction. Facebook also removed the post. Please let him ban Facebook. Then Instagram and all. He will not be the first or last.

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