Nigeria lifts Twitter ban – The New York Times

DAKAR, Senegal – The Nigerian government restored access in the country to Twitter on Thursday after suspension of seven months that was imposed after the social media site deleted a post by the Nigerian president threatening a violent crackdown on separatist groups.

The government blocked access to the site in June, but reversed the process on Wednesday after Twitter agreed to some of the requests. Twitter will set up an office in the country, pay taxes there, appoint a representative and “act with the recognition of respecting Nigerian law and the nation’s culture and history,” a government official said. said.

Since the ban went into effect, Nigerians can only access the service using a virtual private network. The deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s post on Twitter is widely considered to have prompted the government to block the site, but the government official, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said on Wednesday that it was because it was being used. for subversive purposes and criminal activities. ”

In a now-deleted tweet aimed at “wrongdoings”, Mr Buhari said the government would “treat them in a language they understand”, a message widely read as an allusion to the civil war. deadly Nigerian civil war. . Some interpret it as a threat of genocide.

In recent years, Nigerian lawmakers have introduced a number of bills that, if passed, would regulate social media, arguing for them for reasons of security or national unity. Human rights groups say these measures – none of which have been approved – could violate international law protecting the right to freedom of expression.

Human rights organization Amnesty International said on wednesday night called Twitter’s ban “illegal” and described it as an attack on fundamental freedoms for Nigerians, including freedom of expression.

Several organizations have filed lawsuits against the government over the ban, and telecommunications companies have enforced the ban.

In one tweetTwitter said it was “delighted” that its service was restored.

“Our mission in Nigeria, and around the world, is to serve the public conversation,” the post read. “We are deeply committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by everyone for commerce, cultural exchange and civic engagement.”

Twitter is far from the most popular social media platform in Nigeria – it is is said to have around three million users there and is behind WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

However, it has considerable influence in the country, where it is often used by the elite, and in 2020 is used to organize biggest anti-government uprising in a generation, was cast by young people against police brutality.

The ban could cost the Nigerian economy more than $1.4 billion, according to reports a tool was developed by monitoring organization NetBlocks to calculate the economic impact of internet disruptions, mobile data loss or application restrictions. Many Nigerians who use Twitter to promote their businesses have experienced a drop in revenue.

Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough is Enough Nigeria, an organization that works for good governance and public accountability, said that in addition to the economic consequences, there are profound social consequences.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control has used Twitter to disseminate information about the spread of the coronavirus, she said. It is a trusted resource for Nigerians looking for information on reported cases, deaths and tests. During the ban, the organization of Twitter account inactive. Its last tweet was a breakdown of cases by state from June 4.

The organization disseminated information via Facebook, but many Nigerians were unaware of this, even as the Delta variant was going viral.

“A lot of people didn’t quite get the impact of the Delta variant,” said Ms. Adamolekun, “because they weren’t getting the updates”. Nigeria lifts Twitter ban – The New York Times

Fry Electronics Team

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