The Nigerian Government this Friday announced the ban on Twitter’s operations in the country. According to the sources, this move was the result of twitter deleting the Nigerian President’s tweet regarding the site rules.
“The country has suspended the site indefinitely.”– said Minister for Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammad. The suspension of the tweet by the President is “disappointing” but not the only reason for the ban, he added.
The notice was posted on the ministry’s official Twitter account to which a citizen replied,” You’re using Twitter to ban Twitter? Are you not mad?”
Despite the ban, some people could still access the Twitter Application and its website while in some other parts of the country the ban had created a barrier.
On Saturday, some people reported that they could not connect to Twitter through the country’s largest networks: MTN and Airtel. It was also reported that the microblogging site was restricted on all the leading networks. Yet some access was available through some Wi-Fi networks but not everyone could access that.
When some associated press members could still use Twitter, the others commented that they might use VPNs to gain access to the site.
The Backstory to Twitter Ban
The back story leading to the Twitter ban in the country leads to the point where twitter deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet where he threatened to punish those who were responsible for the attacks on the government buildings. Concerning the attacks, he also framed the 1960 Nigerian Civil War and commented that these activities are likely to head towards war, and hence, being the leader it was his duty to stop the activists beforehand.
Buhari had also been the country’s head of state in the 1980s and had served in the Army against the secessionists. “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”- He said.
Twitter not only deleted Buhari’s tweet for violating its “abusive behavior” policy but also suspended his account for 12 hours.
What Does the Government Have to Say?
The government in Nigeria clarified that deleting the tweets was not the “only” reason for the app ban in the country but it was also because the app was promoting the spread of religious, racists, and false messages that could lead to the tearing apart of the country.
NBC has been asked all the internet streaming services and social media operations like WhatsApp, Zoom, Netflix, Skype, etc. in Nigeria to be licensed before operating- the government stated.
The country itself does not have any official Twitter office but the statement would have a huge impact anyways. Although there had been no social media bans in the country ever but the citizens are not new to the internet restrictions done by the government.
The professional body of Nigerian mobile phone operators, Alton was told to stop people getting on to Twitter. Alton in this said that the right to communicate must be protected at any cost.
Mr. Mohammad, the Minister of Information and Culture called out the social media application and commented that the decision was biased and that the country’s president had the right to condemn the events that could lead to serious violence in the country. If Mr. President anywhere in the country feels bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views, he added.
Impact on the Citizens
The youth is undoubtedly disappointed and concerned regarding the decision of the Twitter ban. “I did not expect the government to go so low”, “Twitter was my newspaper”, “When I woke up on Saturday, I could not refresh my Twitter feed” are some of the statements by the country’s youth.
When the citizens could not access Twitter through the application or the website they flooded Twitter with angered tweets through VPNs.
Twitter, to the situation, responded by tweeting that the action of blocking the site is “deeply concerning” and that they will try to restore access for those who rely on Twitter for connecting to the world.
Since the ban, the hashtag #KeepitOn is getting popular on Twitter which is a part of the protest led by Nigerian citizens.
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Watching the recent events, twitter’s decision to choose Ghana as their official African Headquarters seems fair. People have already downloaded VPNs to surpass the ban. While those who cannot are still waiting for the government to lift the ban.