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Assessing the Popularity of Twitter Usage After the Ban Lifting in Nigerian – A Study of Uniben Students

 

ABSTRACT

The main focus of this study is to assess  the popularity of twitter usage after the ban lifting in Nigerian: a study of UNIBEN students. The study further discussed  the major causes of the Twitter ban in Nigeria, determine  the negative effect of the Twitter ban on Nigeria’s citizens., Identify the rationale for lifting twitter ban in Nigeria, establish whether  twitter retain its  popularity in higher institution after the ban lifting and investigate the extent  of twitter usage among UNIBEN students after the ban lifting in Nigerian. The framework guiding the study were Uses and Gratification Theory by Elihu Katz, Jay Blumler and Michael Gurevitch (1974) and Media imperialism by  paul siu-nam lee (1988) which  explains the relationship between the dependent and independent variable respectively. The research adopted the survey descriptive design and with the aid of convenience sampling method, the researcher conveniently selected  One-hundred and fifty (150)  participant who are  students of  University of Benin in Edo State. Self- structured questionnaire was issued to the respondent of which  one-hundred and forty-one (141) responses were retrieved and validated for the study.

The study made use of of descriptive analysis and inferential statistics where data from field survey was analyzed using simple percentage, mean and standard deviation presented in frequencies and tables. Hypothesis test was conducted using Chi-Square Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS v.23). Findings of the study revealed that The federal government of Nigeria agreed to lift the ban, much to the delight of many Nigerians which did not in any way affect the popularity in higher institution after the ban lifting. More so, After the lifting of the ban the extent  of twitter usage among UNIBEN students is high s student continues to utilize the bird app for connection. The study therefore recommends that Foreign owned media organizations should address issues from a much wider perspective so as to avoid creating a much bigger problem while trying to solve one as in the case of what led to the twitter ban  in Nigeria. Additionaly, owing to the socio-economic implication of twitter ban, Efforts should therefore be made by various stakeholders towards reviving businesses and commercial activities on the platform especially in an era when the country is faced with a plethora of economic hardship.

 

TITLE PAGE                                                                                   

Certification

Dedication

Acknowledgment

Table of Content

List of Tables

ABSTRACT

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the study

1.2       Statement of the problem

1.3       Objective of the study

1.4       Research Questions

1.5       Research hypotheses

1.6       Significance of the study

1.7       Scope of the study

1.8       Limitation of the study

1.9       Definition of terms

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE

2.0       Introduction

2.1       Conceptual Framework

2.2       Theoretical Framework

2.3       Review of Empirical studies

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1       Introduction

3.2       Research Design

3.3       Population of the study

3.4       Sample size determination

3.5       Sample size selection technique and procedure

3.6       Research Instrument and Administration

3.7       Method of data collection

3.8       Method of data analysis

3.9       Validity of the study

3.10     Reliability of the study

3.11     Ethical consideration

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS

4.1       Data Presentation

4.2       Descriptive Analysis

4.3       Test of Hypotheses

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.1       Summary

5.2       Conclusion

5.3       Recommendation

References

Appendix

 

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0 INTRODUCTION

Our focus in this chapter is to critically examine relevant literature that would assist in explaining the research problem and furthermore recognize the efforts of scholars who had previously contributed immensely to similar research. The chapter intends to deepen the understanding of the study and close the perceived gaps.

2.1 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

CONCEPT OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media are software tools that allow people to create and share information, ideas, career interests, and other kinds of expression through virtual communities and networks. According to Pate (2016)  users often access social media services using web-based technologies on desktop computers and laptops, or through mobile apps that provide social media capabilities (e.g., smartphones and tablet computers). When using these technologies, users may build highly interactive platforms that allow people, groups, and organizations to exchange, co-create, discuss, and alter user-generated or pre-made information that has been placed online. They bring about significant and extensive changes in corporate, organization, community, and individual communication. Individuals and major businesses are changing their communication methods as a result of social media (Curran, O’Hara, & O’Brien, 2015).

According to Malayo (2015), in contrast to conventional media which uses a mono-logic transmission paradigm (one source to many receivers), such as a paper newspaper distributed to numerous subscribers or a radio station broadcasting the same programming to a whole city.Social media platforms use a dia-logic transmission method (many sources to many receivers).  Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, and YouTube are some of the most prominent social networking websites.

Maciejewski (2021) opined that social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. Users typically access social media services via web-based technologies on desktop computers and laptops, or download services that offer social media functionality to their mobile devices (e.g.smartphones and tablet computers). When engaging with these services, users can create highly interactive platforms through which individuals, communities and organizations can share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content or pre-made content posted online. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses, organizations, communities and individuals. Social media changes the way individuals and large organizations communicate (Curran, O’Hara, & O’Brien, 2015). These changes are the focus of the emerging field of technological studies. Social media differs from paper-based media (e.g., magazines and newspapers) or traditional electronic media such as TV broadcasting in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, interactivity, usability, immediacy, and permanence. Social media operate in a dia-logic transmission system (many sources to many receivers). This is in contrast to traditional media which operates under a mono-logic transmission model (one source to many receivers), such as a paper newspaper which is delivered to many subscribers or a radio station which broadcasts the same programs to an entire city. Some of the most popular social media websites are Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, and YouTube.

Evolution Of Social Media (Twitter)

The term social media is known by everyone in today’s world. Not only the urban areas but also the remote areas of the world have at least heard about Facebook. Instagram and Twitter and may be using them daily. Although it seems like a new trend at the present, it has been practiced and started a few decades ago. During the 20th century, technology began to change rapidly (Hendricks 2017).

Social media have evolved through Web 2.0, a term coined to describe a new wave of Internet innovation that enables users to publish and exchange content online (Kaplan and Haenlein cited in Eun 2015). Social media encompass a wide range of electronic forums, including blogs, microblogs (e.g., Twitter), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), creative work-sharing sites (e.g., YouTube), business networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn), collaborative websites (e Among these social media, social networks and microblogs are the most popular, accounting for 22.7% of all time spent online in the United States, A.C Nielsen (cited in Eun 2015). According to Dominick (2019), Web 2.0 is the idea of a second generation Internet that is highly participatory, allowing users to improve it as they use it. Social media content is primarily written and published by their users and not owners or employees of the site.

The first social media site was created in 1997 by Andrew Weinreich. It enables the registered user to upload a profile and make friends with other users. Then, blogging became popular. The invention of blogging and social media exploded in popularity. Sites such as Myspace, LinkedIn came into existence during 2000. (Barker, Barker, Bormann, Roberts & Zahay 2016). After that, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006 were created and available to users all over the world. These sites are recognized to be the most popular social networks until now on the internet. A tremendous variety of social networking sites can be linked to allow cross posting. It is very difficult to decide the future of social networking might look in the coming years or even decades from now, but it seems that it will have its existence until humans exist on earth (Hendricks 2017).

Twitter

Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through its website interface or its mobile-device application software (“app”), though the service could also be accessed via SMS before April 2020.The service is provided by Twitter, Inc., a corporation based in San Francisco, California, and has more than 25 offices around the world. Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but the limit was doubled to 280 for non-CJK languages in November 2017.Audio and video tweets remain limited to 140 seconds for most accounts (Alsubagh, H. 2015).

Twitter was created by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006 and launched in July of that year. By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and has been described as “the SMS of the Internet”. As of Q1 2019, Twitter had more than 330 million monthly active users.Twitter is a some-to-many microblogging service, given that the vast majority of tweets are written by a small minority of users (Twitter Search Team 2011).

In April 2014, Twitter underwent a redesign that made the site resemble Facebook somewhat. On June 4, 2014, Twitter announced that it would acquire Namo Media, a technology firm specializing in “native advertising” for mobile devices. On June 19, 2014, Twitter announced that it had reached an undisclosed deal to buy Snappy TV, a service that helps edit and share video from television broadcasts.The company is helping broadcasters and rights holders to share video content both organically across social and via Twitter’s Amplify program. In July 2014, Twitter announced that it intended to buy a young company called CardSpring for an undisclosed sum. CardSpring enabled retailers to offer online shoppers coupons that they could automatically sync to their credit cards in order to receive discounts when they shopped in physical stores. On July 31, 2014, Twitter announced that it had acquired a small password-security startup called Mitro. On October 29, 2014, Twitter announced a new partnership with IBM. The partnership was intended to help businesses use Twitter data to understand their customers, businesses and other trends.

On February 11, 2015, Twitter announced that it had acquired Niche, an advertising network for social media stars, founded by Rob Fishman and Darren Lachtman. The acquisition price was reportedly $50 million. On March 13, 2015, Twitter announced its acquisition of Periscope, an app that allows live streaming of video. In April 2015, the Twitter.com desktop homepage changed (Wikipedia.org 2021).

ANTECEDENTS THAT LED TO THE TWITTER BAN IN NIGERIA

2020 EndSars protest: Towards the tail end of 2020 when Nigerians were protesting against police brutality, one major platform that was effectively able to amplify the voice of Nigerians all across the nation was the twitter app. Experts however believed that Nigerian government was not particularly happy with the development.

The failed Social Media bill: President Buhari has been criticized way back from his first tenure in office for being obsessed with digital dictatorship using social media as a springboard. One of the clear indications of his intolerance to freedom of the Internet was in March 2019, when he rejected approval of the National Assembly’s crucial digital rights law. Buhari didn’t speak lightly of his internet censorship at the end of that year. “Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action,” he said. One month following his comments, a government-backed bill aimed at regulating social media came to the National Assembly. Among those who endorsed Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Protection and Other Related Matters Project 2019 was Senator Elisha Abbo, a legislative author who was hit in social media after he was taped on a sex shop attack on a woman. The law proposing a punishment of N300,000($733) or three years in jail or both (for an individual) for defaulting persons suffered a major setback after it was overwhelmingly opposed at public hearings.

Renewed secessionist agitations across the country: In Nigeria, increasing insecurity and community violence seem to encourage separatist movements across the nation. Among these movements is the Biafra Indigenous People, a group in Nigeria that advocated an independent state more than 50 years ago. While it is true that back in 2017, the government banned the activities of the secessionist movement group IPOB which were led by British Nigerian activist Nnamdi Kanu. The separatist organization, nevertheless established an armed security force in January. The goal was to repel Fulani herdsmen, who are frequently accused of community conflicts in the area. But the unit is considered subversive by the Nigerian government. Troops in places where it is operating have clamped down on the armed organisation. Similarly, a separatist party of Yoruba has emerged in recent months advocating for the establishment of an independent state called the Oduduwa Republic. The Republic would encompass the south-west portions of the nation, including the economic centre of Nigeria, Lagos. According to Ibrahim (2021), many Nigerians are extremely unhappy with our political community. You believe that it is not organized to suit your interests. They believe that their citizenship is useless due to severe marginalization. Apart from insecurity, the emergence of these separatist groups is to blame for political marginalization.

BAN OF TWITTER IN NIGERIA

On 4th June 2021, the Nigerian government officially put an indefinite ban on Twitter (BBC 2021) restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets made by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari warning the south eastern people of Nigeria, predominantly Igbo people, of a potential repeat of the 1967 Biafran Civil War due the ongoing insurgency in Southeastern Nigeria. The Nigerian government claimed that the deletion of the President’s tweets factored into their decision but it was ultimately based on a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences”. The government cited “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” as reason for the ban that took effect almost immediately. Following the ban however, the Nigerian government through the information minister questioned twitter’s actions, labeling them as “very suspect”. He accused twitter of double standards, saying the company had ignored what it considered to be violent messages from a separatist leader. In addition, the government ordered broadcasters to cease their “patronage” of the platform. It labeled the broadcast stations’ continued use of the technology as “unpatriotic.” Media and human rights activists decried the broadcast regulator’s decision, calling it “illegal” and an assault on press freedom, but major broadcast stations remained off Twitter in order to comply with the order. Two months after the ban, the Nigerian government indicated that the temporary ban on Twitter could be removed soon, with information minister Lai Mohammed stating that negotiations with Twitter were still continuing and that many agreements had been made with the social media platform. Many Nigerians, civic organisations, and members of the foreign community have spoken out against the ban on Twitter. With the ban, Nigeria joined the list of other countries that have banned or temporarily suspended Twitter, including China, Iran, North Korea,Egypt and Turkey. Despite the ban, many Nigerians still have access to the site using virtual private networks (VPN) and can share their opinion on other apps, like Indian-based microblogging site Koo. According to the US embassy in Nigeria, key diplomatic and economic partners including the EU and the US all criticised the restriction as it comes at a time when the nation needed to promote open discourse and express views and to communicate critical information about the COVID-19 epidemic.

According to Golubski (2021), the worldwide focus of the ban also shows the obvious inefficiency of the administration in tackling major economic, social, security and political problems. Banning systems of expression is not the answer, these measures inhibit access to information and commerce.

IMPLICATION OF TWITTER BAN IN NIGERIA

From the bilateral point of view, the ban once again put Nigeria under the spotlight for the wrong reasons. According to Asandu (2021), despite the fact that Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, the country has often lost out on significant economic possibilities, mostly as a consequence of government policies that have undermined investor trust. The ban has also hampered Nigeria’s development as international investors now push businesses and finance to other African nations, threatening Nigeria’s position as Africa’s unofficial innovation centre. Recently, in a case where Ghana has a considerably smaller population and economy than Nigeria but was considered to have an appealing environment for foreign investors, Twitter selected Ghana for its headquarters. Many startup company concepts also demand an active presence in social media which may make attracting investors challenging for Nigerian technology entrepreneurs. With a recent World Bank Ease of Doing Business study, the nation was rated 14th in Africa overall. However, the government’s growing intolerance, along with the country’s deteriorating economy, has the potential to reverse much of the progress that has been made over the years.             Furthermore, according to a Premium Times (2021) report, opposition politicians and civil society organizations have also criticized the government over the ban, and several human rights organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Nigerian government at the ECOWAS Court against the government. According to an interim order, the government and its agents were prohibited from unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything else to harass, intimidate, arrest, or prosecute Twitter and/or any other social media service providers, media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the plaintiffs, and other Nigerians who use Twitter, pending the hearing and determination of the case by the ECOWAS court.

From the socio-economic point of view, Nigeria reportedly lost N247.61bn within the first one hundred days of the ban. According to NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cyber-security and governance of the Internet, about $366.88m has been lost by businesses since the shutdown took effect. The toll also showed it cost Nigeria’s economy $250,600 (N103.17m) every hour. According research conducted by statisca (2021), Nigeria has about 33 million social media users, with about 26% on twitter. Asandu (2021), posits that Nigeria is has one of the world’s largest rates of severe poverty, with over half its people estimated to live on less than 1.90 dollars a day. It is also tackling its worst rate of unemployment and inflation, at 18.12%, and is rated as Western Africa’s second most corrupt country, according to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, the worst ranking since 2015. While this statistics are worrying enough, the twitter ban will only worsen things.

According to Nwokoma (2021), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are critical to the development of any economy, often supplying as much as 60-70 percent of the country’s employment opportunities. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria account for 96 percent of all companies and provide 84 percent of all employment. With a population of about 117.4 million, SMEs provide 48 percent of the country’s GDP and account for 96 percent of all businesses. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have taken use of the Internet, particularly social media, to conduct commercial operations such as marketing and customer support. The large number of merchants on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram is evidence of this. This view is further corroborated by Anyim (2021), who affirmed that millions of small and medium-sized businesses who rely on the platform to contact their consumers have already seen a reduction in their ability to access the market as a result of the suspension. While these companies may choose to use other social media sites, their postings may not get the same level of interaction as those on Twitter. This has the potential to exacerbate the difficulties that companies have faced as a result of COVID-19 and other structural flaws. The e-commerce industry in the nation, which is estimated to be worth $12 billion, is also impacted (Iyatse and Adepetun, 2021).

From the socio-political point of view, it is worthy to note that the social media particularly the twitter played a key role in mobilizing support during the electioneering campaign of President Buhari.

RATIONALE FOR LIFTING TWITTER BAN IN NIGERIA

After seven month of twitter ban in Nigeria, the federal government through  Abdullahi,, the director general of National Information Technology Development Agency through Guardian newsonline (January 2022), gave approval to lift the suspension with certain conditions that must be met by company which includes thus: Nigerian office in the first quarter of 2022, Appointment of a country representative, Compliance with applicable tax obligations, Nigeria to have access to manage ‘prohibited’ content and Respect for Nigerian laws and the national culture and history

  • Nigerian office in the first quarter of 2022
    According to Abdullah, Twitter will establish a legal presence in the West African country and register with the Corporate Affairs Commission in the first quarter of 2022. “The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria,” he said.
  • Appointment of a country representative
    The Nigerian government official disclosed that Twitter agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities.
  • He said a Global Public Policy team is available to interface with Twitter through a dedicated communication channel.
  • Compliance with applicable tax obligations
    Twitter must now comply with Nigeria’s applicable tax obligations as other legal entities in the country according to revenue generated while running a business in Nigeria.
  • Nigeria to have access to manage ‘prohibited’ content
    Abdullahi said Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals which “provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules (Loten Janofsky& Albergotti, 2022)
  • Nigeria’s enrolment in the Twitter portal will also provide a channel for the “law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws”, Abdullahi said.
  • Respect for Nigerian laws and the national culture and history
    Twitter activities in Nigeria will be in a “respectful acknowledgement” of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.

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