Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said the Federal Government had the option of shutting down the social media space during the #EndSARS protests but chose not to tread the path.
Dare, who spoke on Monday while featuring on Channels Television’s programme Sunrise Daily, said the government did that to allow freedom of expression. He said other countries had taken certain measures to exercise some level of restraint over the cyberspace but Nigeria has not done so.
The minister, however, said the internet and the social media have tremendous benefits but “as a country, we must start to think of how to curtail fake news. There must be some level of responsibility and some level of punishment to those that create chaos out of mischief in our country.”
He said the fact that the Nigerian youths used the social media to drive the recent #EndSARS protests against police brutality is laudable, insisting that the cyberspace must be regulated.
Dare said, “The fact that our youths used it to mobilise is commendable. But the talk about the regulation of the social media has been around for a while. We’ve seen other countries taking practical steps in that direction, this country has not done that.
“Even during the #EndSARS protests, the country had an option (but) the country never went for that final option.
“There was no time the cyberspace was shut down, people were still able to connect themselves through the various social media platforms. And that shows a government that is committed to the rights of freedom and association of every citizen of this country.”
Dare said the social media was used to circulate fake news which angered some persons to go violent.
“The protests brought home the dangers of fake news,” he noted, adding that the National Assembly will do justice to the proposed regulation of the social media to guard against the spread of fake news.
“The talk around regulation, of course, we have a National Assembly, it will have to go through the normal process. We have a constitution, we have to make sure it does not violate certain provisions of the constitution that has to do with freedom of expression.
“Where you have fake news destroying lives, the government has a responsibility to make sure that there is a level of control. It is not censorship but some level of control,” the minister stated.