LAGOS, Nigeria – The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said the federal government’s fear of social media abuse by Nigerians has become a reality.
Speaking at a meeting with editors of newspapers on Friday in Lagos, Mohammed, who lamented the influence of fake news during the End SARS protests, said the government will not allow “reckless use” of social media to cause crisis again in the country.
He also said the government is seeking ways to ensure responsible use of social media but reiterated there were no attempts to ban its use.
“Our fears about the abuse of social media, and specifically the dangers of fake news and disinformation, have come to pass.
“During the End SARS protest social media was used for mobilisation, and it was also used to guide arsonists and looters to properties, both public and private, which were targeted for attack.
“Also, celebrities who were listed as killed at Lekki quickly came out to debunk the report of their deaths.
“There were always fake pictures of people who were allegedly killed at the toll gate but fortunately discerning Nigerians exposed the fact that those were pictures of some non-Nigerians.
“However, this unfortunate development has strengthened our resolve to work with stakeholders to stop the abuse of social media. This has again stirred up the debate on the need to regulate social media content.
“We will never sit down and allow a reckless use of social media to aggravate our fault lines and throw the country into chaos. But we want to assure the public that we will neither shut down the internet nor stifle press freedom or free speech, as some have insinuated.