PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images
Nigeria indefinitely suspended Twitter on Friday after the social media company deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari. The nation’s information minister claimed the ban was because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
Buhari’s tweet had threatened separatists in the nation’s southeast by invoking the violence of the Nigerian Civil War, which cost millions of lives in the 1960s. “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” Buhari had written. Twitter flagged the tweet as violating its “abusive behavior” policy, and deleted it; the platform also temporarily froze Buhari’s account.
Unreal. #Nigeria Gov bans Twitter indefinitely after its President Buhari’s tweet gets deleted.
A nation of 200 million loses access to social platform because one man is offended: https://t.co/7JCfUpKOjr
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) June 4, 2021
“Twitter is a potent political force in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, where a poorly-funded and partisan media is little trusted by the estimated 200 million population,” The Wall Street Journal explains. SERAP, a human rights group in Lagos, responded to the ban by pledging to sue: “Nigerians have a right to freedom of expression and access to information including online and we plan to fight to keep it that way,” the group said in a statement.
As the nation now waits to see how the suspension will be enacted, the news has gone over with many Nigerians on Twitter just about how you’d expect. “Maybe now that [the federal government] has banned Twitter in Nigeria, I can finally get off my phone, focus on school, and get a job,” joked one user.