Plan to regulate social media space in the works – FG

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*Mohammed

The federal government has said that it would regulate the social media space because it has gone out of control.

The minister of information and culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja today.

Mohammed said no responsible government would sit back and allow such activities capable of setting the country on fire to continue unchecked.

“Gentlemen, since we launched our reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have reached out to us, demanding that we also look into how to sanitize the social media space.

“I can assure you that we are also working on how to inject sanity into the social media space which, today, is totally out of control.

“No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration.

“That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both,” he said.

The minister also said no amount of attacks or criticism would stop the government from implementing the tougher sanctions for broadcast stations which breach the nation’s broadcast code especially as it concerns the dissemination of fake news as well as inciting and divisive comments which were approved by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

He said the federal government has no intention of gagging the press but that its campaign is against fake news and hate speech.

Mohammed recalled that within the context of the campaign, he recently inaugurated an effort to rid the airwaves of fake news and hate speech.

He said the campaign was sequel to the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general election.

“I set up committee on the implementation of the recommendations that were approved by Mr. President to inject sanity into the nation’s broadcast industry,’’ he said.

Mohammed highlighted the terms of reference of the committee to include independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting licence.

He said the committee was also to review the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect upward review of fines from N500, 000 to N5 million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.

“Once the committee submits its report, we will immediately kick-start the implementation of the approved measures to inject sanity into our broadcast industry,” he said.

“Many have hailed our efforts at seeking to bring sanity to the airwaves, while some have attacked us and accused us of trying to stifle press freedom or gag journalists.

“In the first instance, let me say this. No amount of attacks sponsored or otherwise, will stop the implementation of the approved recommendations.

“And only non-patriots and anarchists will kick against measures aimed at putting an end to fake news and hate speech, especially in our broadcast industry.

“But, as I have been saying, we have no intention of stifling free speech or gagging journalists or anyone. Again, this Administration has no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech. Our campaign is against fake news and hate speech.

“However, if you engage in disseminating fake news or hate speech, you need to be worried, because we will not spare you. We cannot allow fake news and hate speech to become free speech, because these Siamese Twins of Evil are capable of inflicting untold damage on our democracy and threatening our national unity.”

With TheCable report

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