Nigeria announces indefinite ban of Twitter

Website and app continue to work in Abuja and Lagos on Friday despite suspension

Charlene Rodrigues
Friday 04 June 2021 21:55
<p>Users engaged in ‘activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence’, ministers claim</p>

Users engaged in ‘activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence’, ministers claim

Nigeria announced an indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country on Friday just days after it deleted a post by the president.

The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture blamed “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence” for the move.

Two days earlier, the social media site had deleted a post from Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, which threatened to punish regional secessionists.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister, announced Twitter’s suspension on both Twitter and Facebook, leading to mockery. One user, Ayo Kingdove, said: “Using Twitter to announced the suspension of its operation in Nigeria on its platform. Are you alright?”

The information ministry did not give exact details of how the suspension would work. A ministerial aide told Reuters: “Wait and see how things will turn out.”

Twitter's website and app continued to work in Nigeria's capital Abuja and commercial hub Lagos on Friday.

Twitter said it was investigating the “deeply concerning” suspension. Earlier in the week, Twitter said Mr Buhari's post had violated its “abusive behaviour” policy.

The spat came as Facebook announced a shift in how it deals with statements by politicians, and also said it would keep Donald Trump’s account locked until January 2023. Administrators will assess at that time whether the former US president still represents a risk to public safety, Mark Zuckerberg’s company said in a statement.

In April, Twitter chose neighbouring Ghana for its first African headquarters. Mr Mohammed accused the company of being influenced by media misrepresentations of Nigeria, including reports of crackdowns on protests last year.

Demonstrators calling for police reform had used social media to organise, raise money and share alleged proof of police harassment. Twitter's chief executive, Jack Dorsey, tweeted to encourage his followers to donate.

In the protests’ wake, Mr Mohammed called for regulation of social media to combat “fake news”.

A spokesperson for Airtel, one of Nigeria's largest mobile carriers, on Friday declined to say whether the company had received any government directives about the suspension. MTN, the largest mobile carrier, did not respond to media requests.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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