By Bala Ibrahim
It is no longer news that last week, precisely on Friday, 04/06/21, the government of Nigeria had announced an indefinite suspension of the operations of Twitter, the super blogger and social networking service from the country.
The suspension was announced by Mr. Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of Information, who said, “The suspension was hinged on the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
However, rather than checking for the reasons that triggered the suspension, with special focus to whether they have any bearing with the status of the corporate existence of Nigeria as a country, traducers, who shamelessly engage in attacking reputations through slander or libel, stupidly took to the press, by twisting the truth in defence of Twitter’s rashness.
Twitter is a social broadcast network that enables people and organizations to publicly share brief messages instantly around the world. Through this, it brings together, a variety of people with different voices, ideas, and perspectives, who are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, provided they do not violate the “Twitter Rules”. It’s these twitter rules that need to be scrutinized properly, in order to see the extent of their conflict or conformity with objectivity and morality.
Somewhere in the policy of twitter it says, “Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. Violence, harassment and other similar types of behaviour discourage people from expressing themselves, and ultimately diminish the value of global public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely. As a policy, we do not mediate content or intervene in disputes between users. However, targeted abuse or harassment may constitute a violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service.”
In looking at the meaning of targeted abuse or harassment, which twitter claims could constitute a violation of its rules, I make reference to two simple tweets on President Buhari by Reno Omokri, one of the former spokesmen to former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the man that is credited with pioneering the use of social media for political purposes in Nigeria, viz: 1. “General @MBuhari’s Inferiority Complex Makes Him Unfit For The Office He Occupies.” 2. “So a teacher without certificate is incompetent but a President without certificate is competent? I know Buhari devalued the Naira, but did he also devalue your reasoning capacity?”
It may interest us to know that the Supreme Court had made pronouncements on the above issues. But in defiance, Omokri is coming with a reversed pronouncement, to the comfort of twitter.
If we go by the preaching of twitter that, their rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely, we cannot avoid passing the verdict of bias against it, for permitting Omokri to escape with such attack on Buhari, the sitting president of a corporate country, and his own country. The definition of unfairness is, an inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unjust.
For Twitter, it’s okay if Aisha Yesufu, Nnamdi Kanu and other users, send tweets rebuking or severely reprimanding others, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari. But it’s crimes against humanity, if Buhari should respond by making a corresponding remark.
Pursuant to the planned secession and the formation of the Republic of Biafra, the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, in a tweet from the comfort of his sanctuary abroad, said, IPOB members should kill gruesomely, any security officer carrying arms. “Kill them and carry away their guns to kill other police and soldiers. Any security personnel seen on the street should be killed”. Twitter is happy with this.
But Twitter is unhappy, when President Muhammadu Buhari responded by making reference to the 1967 civil war, where he threatened to treat those bent on destroying Nigeria through insurrection in, “a language they understand”. Hence, twitter deleted his post.
A rule or principle, which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people is called double standard, and my pen has found Twitter guilty here. President George W. Bush, in an address to a joint session of Congress on 20th of September 2001 said, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
Those accusing Nigeria of being harsh on twitter are only twisting the truth, because they are traducers employed to trade in trash. Many governments have taken unilateral actions and blocked Internet access to Twitter or its content without any qualms.
As far back as the year 2019, the governments of China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, have blocked access to Twitter in those countries comfortably. And the sun has not refused rise from the east and set in the west. Nor the planet’s axis and pattern of rotation has changed.
Those engaged in twisting the truth seem forgetful about the activities of those that are in the business of internet abuse, where through the improper use of the internet, they resort to cyberbullying, by using the internet to bully and intimidate others. On daily basis, Kanu is giving out tweets of threats, and his followers are obliging him with negative actions.
While I am awaiting the response of Nigeria’s former finance minister, and the current Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on her recent appointment to the board of twitter, I make haste to code-name those against the twitter ban as, traducers, engaged in twisting the truth.