In the past week, there has been an ambitious bill passed in the Nigerian Senate to send to prison for two years anyone who makes false allegation against a public officer or institution on any form of media – print, TV, radio and social media.
As expected, the social media fanatics have not taken this information lightly and are calling out all the Senators supporting the bill as well as those who claim not to be supporting the bill but are clearly not standing against it.
The big question here is “Is there any sense to this bill”? Do these Senators have a point? Or is this simply a maneuver to cover up their illegal and corrupt practices by preventing people from speaking up in what is supposed to be a democratic nation?
Whatever the real truth is, we would never know but what I do know is that the bill’s sponsor Ibn Bala Na’Allah who is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Kebbi South was not mincing words when he said “The social media nuisance in this country is outrageous”.
I completely and unequivocally agree with him. The entire social media has become a place where people throw stones, daggers, formulate lies, false claim and carry out so much cruelty – under the umbrella of so called “freedom of speech”.
Does it really have to be that way?
I am of the opinion that if there was a law set out to curb the amount of trash that is said on social media (and we must admit that social media especially twitter is 85% trash and 15% accurate information), people would ensure to evaluate the authenticity of whatever information they choose to share with others.
A major point those against this bill are stressing is the fact that Nigeria is a democratic country and the bill sets out to restrain access to the internet and social media, curtail the freedom of the press, and online content in illegitimate, disproportionate, or otherwise unlawful and abusive ways.
But I say to them, are we really going to let people get away with all the inappropriate modes of speech currently being targeted at certain individuals, institutions and trends?
Let me just say that this is not only about the government.
Recently, a young lady known as Sugabelly recounted her unfathomable ordeal in the hands of some group of boys that can be termed “the children of the fortunate” and what did she get in return? Backlash, name calling, arrows, daggers, and basically, everyone had something not so nice to say.
Even as much as Sugabelly made a grievous accusation and I definitely sympathize with her but someone made a comment which I can’t help but agree with and it reads below.
“Rape is bad. No one should be a victim. But victims should please have facts when accusing people. We shouldn’t destroy someone’s life based on pinky promise alone that the victims are saying the truth”.
Moving on from the Sugabelly story, there have been so many cases of false accusations that have trended and tainted the names, reputation and like the comment above said, destroyed the lives of so many people, all thanks to social media.
We may not be able to relate to that but ask someone who has fallen victim to the incorrigible nature of social media fanatics and you might just have a rethink of it all.
Social media is undoubtedly fun – the tweets, retweets, likes, follow, etc. BUT should we really be willing to do all of that at the detriment of someone’s life without bothering to investigate the claim and make sure it’s accurate?
That is exactly what this bill (if successfully passed) hopes to do.
The aim is to ensure there is an essential validation of information before it is passed onto the World Wide Web.
Honestly, I do not see anything wrong with that. As a matter of fact, I think it should have been done sooner.
Clearly, those fighting it are the ones who abuse their so called “freedom of speech” by passing out untrue and unjust information whilst basking in the joy of seeing it spread uncontrollably.
Those people should be called to order.
The social media bill isn’t going to take away our freedom of speech rather it is ensuring that we do not ruin people’s lives by spreading false information.
So if you can’t do the time, DON’T DO THE CRIME!
What do you think of the social media bill the Nigerian Senate is currently passing?
Feel free to share your comments, opinion and suggestions.
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PS: Words are an expression of opinion; WRITING is SPEAKING!