THERE IS no denying the fact that the Nigerian ruling class is scared stiff of social media and will give anything to kill – not regulate – it. The “regulation” of social media they claim to be after is a mere disguise; what they mean to do is kill social media totally and completely. That was why they initially proposed the death penalty as punishment for “hate speech”, which is another disguise for social media. It is giving a dog a bad name to hang it. Looting of the treasury does not attract capital punishment but social media misdemeanor does! Social media infraction is sin committed by the poor; looting of our common patrimony is crime committed by the rich and powerful. So it is understandable why the ruling is lenient on its own crime but vicious on the crime of others.
Besides, social media empowers the poor and less privileged to expose the criminalities of the ruling class; it gives the poor the platform to talk back to the rich; and, above all, the poor and less privileged are now able to organise themselves and fight for their own rights. Social media gives vistas of opportunities for those savvy in it to cut corners around the traditional institutions of control and rulership that have always been in the vice-like grip of the ruling class. Therefore, the authorities are afraid of social media because, if allowed to thrive, it portends bad omen for their continued control of power.
Social media operations in this country today may not be perfect – but so also does no other sector operate perfectly! Social media will evolve and get better with time, with training, and with an improved enabling environment the same way that the traditional media improved over time. There was a time when the ill-trained and sorry-to-behold persons were the “journalists” but today the best professionals in every discipline are counted as journalists – Graduates, Master’s degree and Ph. D holders, etc.
Why I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the authorities are not really after the truth is that they do not comply with the Freedom of Information Act (2011). If you are against the publication of fake news, then, release the authentic news! If you refuse to release the truth, even after the invocation of the Freedom of Information Act, then, you forfeit the right to complain that a publication is fake news. They cannot eat their cake and have it. All they want is prevent the truth from getting out while offloading their gibberish on us. No more! Long live social media!