Hate speech bill: University don supports regulation of social media

Hate speech bill: University don supports regulation of social media

- A communication teacher at University of Ibadan, Bisi Olawuyi, has drummed support for the regulation of social media in Nigeria

- The bill which has passed through second reading at the Senate is already causing disagreement between the National Assembly and the Nigerian public

- Olawuyi, however, maintained that social media should be regulated in order to caution individual excesses

A senior lecturer in the department of communication and language arts, University of Ibadan, Bisi Olawuyi, has said that despite the criticisms that trailed the recently introduced anti-hate speech bill in the National Assembly, there is a need to regulate the social media space in Nigeria.

Legit.ng's regional reporter in Ibadan, Ridwan Kolawole, reports that Olawuyi disclosed this while speaking to journalists on the sideline of the sixth edition of a public speaking competition tagged Superbowl at the university on Saturday, November 30.

It would be recalled that the anti-hate speech bill which seeks to regulate and punish people who make unguarded statements in the country which has passed second reading in the National Assembly, was recently re-introduced by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

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Eminent Nigerians have, however, expressed their displeasure over the proposed law.

Reacting to the bill, Olawuyi maintained that there is nowhere in the world where freedom is absolute, insisting that social media should be regulated in order to caution individual excesses.

He said: "I just came back from a training workshop in Moronvia, a training on investigative journalism, but, there is nowhere in the world where the freedom is absolute. I teach media. In the age of social media, whoever gets to the media first owns the story either positive or negative. If somebody decides to malign me and go on social media that Bisi did this, how many people will I tell that it is not true?

"So, there is a need for people to take responsibility for whatever they do. Are we together. But, how do we balance the bill in a manner that it does not suppress those rights. I will give an example. There is a lot of misinformation about China. China has "WeChat" like WhatsApp. What China do is that you are free to post misinformation or hate speech but it is not the person who posted it that will be liable but, it is the admin. So, when you set up a group and then you have administrator, the onus is on the administrator to ensure that the purpose of that chat group is strictly adhered to.

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"For instance, this is WhatsApp group for old students association, we are going to be posting related matters only, no religious things. But, what happened? People will begin to deviate. So, we need responsibility, people need to take responsibility for whatever they do. So, if I know that something is at stake, do you think I am going to post it?

He said when somebody sends a message and then it is re-posted, the person who re-posted the message would take responsibility for the post, adding that the person would have believed in the message before he re-posted it.

"So, are we together? I think it should be regulated. But, we need to look at the nature of that regulation, so that it does not undermine the freedom of expression," he said.

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Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state urged the media to remain vigilant and mobilise Nigerians to defend the nation’s democracy.

It was reported that the governor said the ruling party would not be allowed to operate democracy like a military dictatorship.

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Source: Legit

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