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 imposed after the social media site removed a post from the Nigerian president threatening violent crackdown on separatist movements.

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

Since the ban went into effect, Nigerians can only access the service through a virtual private network. The removal of a post by President Muhammadu Buhari by Twitter was widely seen as prompting the government to block the site, but the government official, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said on Wednesday it was because it had been used “for subversive purposes and criminal activity.” . ”

In the now-deleted tweet, which targeted “those who misbehave”, Mr Buhari said the government would “treat them in the language they understand”, a message widely read as referring to the deadly Nigerian civil war . Some interpreted it as a threat of genocide.

In recent years, Nigerian lawmakers have introduced several bills that, if passed, would regulate social media, advocating them on grounds of security or national unity. Human rights groups say these measures — none of which have been approved — could violate international laws protecting freedom of expression.

The human rights organization Amnesty International said Wednesday night that the Twitter ban had been “illegal” and described it as an attack on Nigerians’ fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.

Several organizations have filed lawsuits against the government over the ban and the telecommunications companies that enforced it.

In a tweetTwitter said it was “glad” that the service had been restored.

“Our mission in Nigeria and around the world is to serve the public conversation,” the message read. “We are deeply committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by people for trade, cultural engagement and civic participation.”

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

Nevertheless, it has significant influence in the country, where it is often used by the elite, and in 2020 was used to stage the largest anti-government uprising in a generation, staged by youth against police brutality.

The ban may have cost the Nigerian economy more than $1.4 billion, according to a tool developed by monitoring organization NetBlocks to calculate the economic impact of internet outages, mobile data blackouts or app restrictions. Many Nigerians who used Twitter to promote their business have lost revenue.

In addition to the economic impact, there were also profound social impacts, said Yemi Adamolekun, the executive director of Enough is Enough Nigeria, an organization committed to good governance and public accountability.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control had used Twitter to spread information about the spread of the coronavirus, she said. It was a go-to resource for Nigerians seeking information on reported cases, deaths, and tests. During the ban, the organization Twitter account was inactive. The latest tweet was a breakdown of cases by state as of June 4.

The organization circulated information via Facebook, but many Nigerians were not aware of this, even as the Delta variant spread.

“A lot of people didn’t fully understand the impact of the Delta variant,” Ms. Adamolekun said, “because they didn’t get the updates.”

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