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Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Is an Economic Disaster in the Making

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17.06.2021

When the federal government of Nigeria banned Twitter on July 4, 2020, it gave no thought to the importance of the platform. All that mattered was the bruised ego of President Muhammadu Buhari, who felt insulted because his tweet—in which he had threatened to “treat those misbehaving today in a language they understand”—was deleted for violating Twitter’s policy and his account temporarily suspended.

But millions of Nigerians, especially young people, rely on social media platforms. They’re trying to use tech and social media to solve local problems in Nigeria, from entertainment to health to fin-tech. In 2019, there were about 24.59 million social network users in Nigeria, a figure projected to grow to 44.63 million users in 2025 as more and more users are able to access the internet and others begin to understand the role that social media plays in business, job creation, advocacy, and politics.

When the federal government of Nigeria banned Twitter on July 4, 2020, it gave no thought to the importance of the platform. All that mattered was the bruised ego of President Muhammadu Buhari, who felt insulted because his tweet—in which he had threatened to “treat those misbehaving today in a language they understand”—was deleted for violating Twitter’s policy and his account temporarily suspended.

But millions of Nigerians, especially young people, rely on social media platforms. They’re trying to use tech and social media to solve local problems in Nigeria, from entertainment to health to fin-tech. In 2019, there were about 24.59 million social network users in Nigeria, a figure projected to grow to 44.63 million users in 2025 as more and more users are able to access the internet and others begin to understand the role that social media plays in business, job creation, advocacy, and politics.

In April, Twitter announced that it was setting up operations in Ghana. In the statement announcing their decision, the company stated that Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and open internet. The move itself was unsurprising. During the #EndSARS protests against police brutality, oppression, and extrajudicial........

© Foreign Policy


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