Social media is a platform through which many individuals express their thoughts, share their views with thousands of people. This is why millions of people use these platforms daily, the freedom of expression. However, some individuals use social media platforms for unsavory activities such as spreading rumors, cyberbullying, and fraud.
In November 2019, Senator Sani Musa introduced The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019. This bill is also known as the ‘Social Media Bill.’ This bill attracted a lot of attention because of its controversial nature.
Summarily, this bill proposed that the government could restrict the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter when it was deemed necessary. Furthermore, because the bill aimed to stop misinformation, guilty individuals were to be penalized when caught. An individual who was found guilty would have to pay a N300,000 fine while more substantial organizations would have to pay N10 million.
The proposal of this bill attracted criticism from Nigerians, who stated that the bill was created to stifle the media. However, Senator Musa argued that the bill was proposed to prevent misinformation. Consequently, the Social media bill passed the first and second reading at the Nigerian Senate.
In response to the bill passing the second reading, close to 100,000 people signed a petition rejecting the bill on Change.org. Furthermore, there were more than 10,000 tweets with the hashtag #SayNoToSocialMediaBill.
To understand how some Nigerians view the Social Media Bill, we conducted an interview. The interview can be seen in the video below.