Hate speech/fake news: FG to monitor harmful accounts, coordinated disinformation networks on Twitter, Facebook, Tiktok, other social media

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By Seth Akande

With aim of demanding responsibility and accountability from online platforms regarding unlawful and harmful contents on their platforms, the Federal Government has issued a new operational code of practice for Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and Tik Tok amongst others to protect the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians resident in the country.

In a press release signed by the Head Corporate Affairs and External Relationship, Mrs Hadiza Umar, the new operational code of practice is in accordance with mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to NITDA, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians in order to maximise mutual benefits for our nation, while promoting a sustainable digital economy.

The Code of Practice is set out to safeguard the security and welfare of Nigerians while interacting on these Platforms.

In adherence to the new stated code of practice, interactive computer service platforms have been directed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities in compliance with all applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.

The Government also ordered that a comprehensive compliance mechanism should be provided to avoid publication of prohibited contents and unethical behaviour on their platform.

They are also to provide information to authorities on harmful accounts, suspected botnets, troll groups, and other coordinated disinformation networks and delete any information that violates Nigerian law within an agreed time.

Umar said the Federal Government wishes to reiterate its commitment towards ensuring Nigeria fully harnesses the potentials of the Digital Economy and safeguard the security and interest of its citizens in the digital ecosystem.

“The Code of Practice was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as input from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and Tik Tok amongst others.

“Other relevant stakeholders with peculiar knowledge in this area were consulted such as Civil Society Organizations and expert groups. The results of these consultations were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.

“The new global reality is that the activities conducted on these Online Platforms wield enormous influence over our society, social interaction, and economic choices.

“Hence, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of Online Platforms with Nigerians in order to maximise mutual benefits for our nation, while promoting a sustainable digital economy.

“Similarly, to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice, NITDA also wishes to notify all Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries operating in Nigeria that the Federal Government of Nigeria has set out conditions for operating in the country.

“These conditions address issues around legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws.”