Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban – The New York Times

Dakar, Senegal – The Nigerian government on Thursday restored access to Twitter in the country after a seven-month suspension following a post by the Nigerian president on a social media site threatening to crack down on separatist groups.

The government blocked access to the site in June, but reversed the course on Wednesday after Twitter agreed to several demands. Twitter will set up an office in the country, pay taxes there, appoint a representative and work with “respectful acceptance of Nigerian laws and national culture and history,” a government official said.

Since the ban came into effect, Nigerians have only been able to access the service using a virtual private network. The removal of the post by President Muhammad Buhari via Twitter was widely seen as encouraging the government to block the site, but government official Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said on Wednesday that it was being used “for destructive purposes and criminal activities”. “

In a recently deleted tweet, aimed at “they misbehave,” Mr. Buhari said the government would “deal with them in the language they understand,” a message that was widely read as a reference to the deadly Nigerian civil war. Some interpreted it as a threat to genocide.

In recent years, Nigerian legislators have introduced several bills that, if passed, would regulate social media, arguing for them on the basis of security or national unity. Rights groups say the measures – none of which have been approved – could violate international law protecting freedom of speech.

Human rights group Amnesty International Said Wednesday night That the Twitter ban was “illegal” and described it as an attack on Nigerians’ fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.

Some organizations have filed lawsuits against the government and the telecommunications companies that enforced the ban.

Inside Tweet, Twitter said it was “delighted” that its service had been restored.

“Our mission in Nigeria and around the world is to serve the public discourse,” the post reads. “We are very committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by people for commerce, cultural engagement and civic engagement.”

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

Nevertheless, it has a significantly organized dominance in the country, where it is used mostly by the upper class, and in 2020 it was used for the largest anti-government uprising of the generation, organized by the youth against police brutality.

The ban could have cost the Nigerian economy more than 4 1.4 billion, according to a tool developed by the monitoring organization NetBlocks to calculate the economic impact of Internet disruptions, mobile data blackouts or application restrictions. Many Nigerians who used Twitter to promote their businesses have lost their income.

“Apart from the economic consequences, there were also deeper social consequences,” said Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, an organization working for good governance and public accountability.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control was using Twitter to spread information about the spread of coronavirus, she said. It was a go-to source for Nigerians seeking information on reported cases, deaths and trials. During the ban, the organization Twitter account Was inactive. His last tweet was the cessation of cases by the state since June 4.

The organization circulated the information through Facebook, but many Nigerians were unaware of this despite the spread of the Delta variant.

“A lot of people don’t get the full effect of the Delta variant,” Ms. “Because they weren’t getting the updates,” Admolecu said.

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