DAKAR, Senegal – The Nigerian government restored access to Twitter in the country on Thursday a seven month ban That was imposed after the social media site deleted a post by the Nigerian President threatening violence against secessionist groups.
The government blocked access to the site in June but reversed course on Wednesday after Twitter agreed to several requests. Twitter will set up an office in the country, pay taxes there, appoint a representative and “act in full respect of Nigerian law and national culture and history,” said a government official.
Since the ban went into effect, Nigerians can only access the service through a virtual private network. Twitter’s removal of a post by President Muhammadu Buhari was widely seen as a trigger for the site’s suspension, but government official Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said Wednesday it was because it was used “for subversive purposes and criminal activity.” ”
In the now-deleted tweet aimed at “those who misbehave,” Buhari said the government would treat them “in the language they understand,” a message widely read as an indication of the deadly Nigerian civil war would . Some interpreted it as a genocidal threat.
In recent years Nigerian legislature has tabled several bills that, if passed, would regulate social media and argue for them on the grounds of security or national unity. Rights groups say these actions – none of which were approved – could Violate international laws protecting freedom of speech.
The human rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday evening the Twitter ban was “illegal” and described it as an attack on the fundamental freedoms of Nigerians, including freedom of expression.
Several organizations filed lawsuits against the government and the telecommunications companies that enforced the ban.
In one tweetTwitter said it was “pleased” that its service has been restored.
“Our mission in Nigeria and around the world is to serve public conversation,” the post reads. “We are deeply committed to Nigeria, where people use Twitter for trade, cultural engagement and citizen participation.”
Twitter is nowhere near the most popular social media platform in Nigeria – it is An estimated three million users there and ranks behind WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.
Nevertheless, it has considerable impact in the country, is often used by the elite there and in 2020 was used to organize the Biggest uprising against the government in a generation, staged by young people against police brutality.
The ban could have cost Nigeria’s economy more than $ 1.4 billion, so a tool Developed by the monitoring organization NetBlocks to calculate the economic impact of Internet disruptions, mobile data outages or app restrictions. Many Nigerians who used Twitter to promote their businesses have lost revenue.
Aside from the economic ramifications, there have also been profound societal ramifications, said Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough is Enough Nigeria, an organization committed to good governance and public accountability.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control used Twitter to spread information about the spread of the coronavirus, she said. It was a focal point for Nigerians seeking information on reported cases, deaths, and tests. During the ban, the organization Twitter account was inactive. The last tweet was a breakdown of cases by state as of June 4.
The organization disseminated information on Facebook, but many Nigerians did not know this, even though the Delta variant spread.
“A lot of people didn’t fully understand the effects of the Delta variant,” said Ms. Adamolekun, “because they didn’t get the updates.”