Twitter is set to resume operations in Nigeria after close to 8 months on the country’s banned websites list. Blocked in June 2020 by the country’s President Muhammad Buhari over deleting his Tweet, Twitter received a list of conditions it must meet before re-operating in Nigeria.
Now, sources from the West African Country reveal that Twitter will be unblocked soon. According to Nation Online NG, Twitter has met all set conditions (6) as set by the Nigerian Government, these include:
- Have a Nigerian office
- Pay taxes
- Have a country representative
- Register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)/get National Broadcasting Commission’s licence
- Should be sensitive to national security and cohesion. It must not undermine the nation’s security
- Train Nigerian IT personnel, and strategic intelligence officers on how to report twitter abuse /infractions noticed by the government.
The conditions were set as part of the negotiations between a dedicated government committee, and Twitter officials on how the suspension can be lifted in Nigeria.
But since the indefinite suspension of Twitter services in the country, users have resorted to the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) Apps to bypass restrictions. And now, Twitter’s compliance with the set conditions means that the social media platform will be unblocked once the President feels ready to.
Twitter’s Compliance to the Conditions: What it means for the rest of Africa
In 2020, Twitter launched in Ghana with its main consideration points including free speech, online freedom, open internet, and democracy in the country. But with the platform’s compliance with Nigerian conditions, means, the state will hold more power over what happens on the platform.
As listed on condition 6, the government’s IT team will have the power to report Twitter abuse, and propose a suspension of accounts making Tweet attacks on the country’s officials, or promoting tough opposition speech in the country. This means, free speech for Nigerian Twitter users could soon turn into controlled speech, hashtags, trends.
Well, Nigeria is not the first country to block Twitter, In Uganda, and a few other African countries, the platform in conjunction with all social media sites, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, among others are often blocked during election periods.
But with Twitter’s compliance to new rules, other African governments will pick a leaf from the Nigerian Trend to force the social media giant to play within their local rules. In simple terms, If you live in Africa, expect a Twitter office near you, but also, Europe or American style Twitter rules on speech may soon be void in your region.