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Chapter One of Evaluation Of The Effect Of Twitter Ban On Information Dissemination In Nigeria

INTRODUCTION

  1. Background of the study

Social media is the term often used to refer to new forms of media that involve interactive participation. Often the development of media is divided into two different ages, the broadcast age and the interactive age. In the broadcast age, media were almost exclusively centralized where one entity such as a radio or television station, newspaper company, or a movie production studio distributed messages to many people. Feedback to media outlets was often indirect, delayed, and impersonal. Mediated communication between individuals typically happened on a much smaller level, usually via personal letters, telephone calls, or sometimes on a slightly larger scale through means such as photocopied family newsletters. With the rise of digital and mobile technologies, interaction on a large scale became easier for individuals than ever before; and as such, a new media age was born where interactivity was placed at the center of new media functions. One individual could now speak to many, and instant feedback was a possibility. Where citizens and consumers used to have limited and somewhat muted voices, now they could share their opinions with many. The low cost and accessibility of new technology also allowed more options for media consumption than ever before and so instead of only a few news outlets, individuals now have the ability to seek information from several sources and to dialogue with others via message forums about the information posted. At the core of this ongoing revolution is social media. The characteristics, common forms, and common functions of social media are explored here.

Core Characteristics

All social media involve some sort of digital platform, whether that be mobile or stationary. Not everything that is digital, however, is necessarily social media. Two common characteristics help to define social media. First, social media allow some form of participation. Social media are never completely passive, even if sometimes social networking sites such as Facebook may allow passive viewing of what others are posting. Usually, at bare minimum, a profile must be created that allows for the beginning of the potential for interaction. That quality in and of itself sets social media apart from traditional media where personal profiles are not the norm. Second,

and in line with their participatory nature, social media involve interaction. This interaction can be with established friends, family, or acquaintances or with new people who share common interests or even a common acquaintance circle. Although many social media were or are initially treated or referred to as novel, as they continue to be integrated into personal and professional lives they become less noticed and more expected.

Common Forms

As this overview of common forms of social media demonstrates, some are used primarily for recreation or personal connections, others for work or professional reasons, but most allow leeway for both.

Email.

training. Those who work for public organizations (including politicians, professors at state universities, and administrators and assistants for government offices) are often subject to open records laws that will allow interested people or organizations to request any emails sent or received to a government funded email account or an email account used to conduct government business. p. 1159 Use of email actually pre-dates the internet, with some organizations having the ability to send messages electronically within a local computing network. As the Internet rose to prominence, sending messages across different servers also became a possibility. Email acts as a

quick and highly reliable way to send documents or images, updates or important details at a moment’s notice, or to share one piece of information with a large number of people. Many people face issues with spam, or unsolicited email that is usually from commercial sources. Many times spam is exacerbated by computer viruses that use email programs to capture all of the email addresses in a user’s address book. An address book is the list of email addresses that an individual saves to quickly send an email to an individual or a group of people. People often divide an address book into different kinds of friends, colleagues, or family members to send correspondence to those who it is most relevant.

Texters.

Similar to email, a texter is a two-way communication channel that allows individuals to quickly send a message to another person or a group of people. Although media

portrayals often make it look as if texting is a particularly youthful behavior, people of all ages have adapted to texting. Still, younger individuals tend to text more often and usually do so at a faster speed. As texting technology has improved, it is easier to text photos or to copy and paste links into texters in order to share them with others. Texters often make use of emoticons, the use of keyboard characters to make pictures such as a smiley face (e.g., :-P), a practice that is also common with email. Texters are derived from chatters, or computer programs that make use of the internet to allow people to quickly talk back and forth via text characters. Although the use of texting is often highly convenient and allows many benefits, particular attention has been paid to two texting behaviors that has led to problems: texting while driving and sexting. It is estimated that texting while driving makes a car crash almost 23% more likely. Sexting is mostly harmful when adolescent children share pictures that are later redistributed to others by the receiver. In some cases, those forwarding pictures of people under the age of 18 have been charged with child pornography. Politicians have faced scrutiny for sharing sexual messages with others, including interns. Despite these problematic potentials, many adults report that sexting is a satisfying alternative to sexual interaction when they are away from their partners.

Blogs.

The word blog is derived from the word weblog. A blog is a webpage where an

individual or group can share information or ideas with a large group of people via the internet. It is not uncommon for a person to start a blog and then never update it again. Some of the most successful blogs are updated on a regular basis so the followers of the blog can know when to expect new entries. Blogs cover a wide range of topics, including political issues of all kinds. A common feature to blogs is a feedback forum where, after reading an entry, people can interact with both the blog author and others who have commented. Many traditional media outlets have adopted blog-like features online in order to entice readers to continue sticking with their news or entertainment offerings. For example, many newspaper stories end with the opportunity for readers to share their thoughts or comments about a current issue. These news stories especially when about hot or particularly partisan political issues—can lead to serious debates. Because of the contentious nature many blogs and news outlets find, it is not uncommon for a user to be required to register in order to participate. p. 1160

Message boards.

It is not uncommon for fans of television programs or other popular entertainment to frequent message boards that allow users to post messages that talk about a clearly defined subject. Message boards also prove popular with people seeking social support or advice, whether that is wounded warriors trying to make sense of life after war or someone facing breast cancer who wants to talk to someone else who has been through the experience. Advice is also offered through review sites such as Yelp that allow users to rate businesses such as restaurants.

Connection sites.

Online dating is another form of social media. Users approach online dating sites some that require paid membership and others that are free of charge and create a

profile that tells who they are and what they seek in a relationship. Some may be skeptical about how honest some are about the information displayed in an online profile, but research shows that people are generally honest. The stigma placed upon online dating sites has continued to diminish as more people continue to use them in order to meet dating partners. In addition to dating, others may use connection sites to find friends or activity partners. For example, the connection site Meet Up allows users to find activist groups, book clubs, or hobby circles. Users enter a profile, and then they can even send messages to meet up group leaders in order to learn more about the activity or see if they would make a good fit for the group.

Social networking sites.

Facebook, Twitter, instagram, whatsapp, and other social networking sites are almost ubiquitous features in contemporary culture. Even those who choose not to create an online profile and participate will often hear from others information gained from such social platforms. A key distinguishing feature that makes a social networking site is the fellow list of users that one connects with, usually based upon friendship, family, work relationships, or even weak tie relationships. Initially social networking sites were great ways to meet new people, and although that is still a possibility many social networking sites now discourage people from adding connections they do not know. The public nature of information posted to social networking sites often allow a space for social or political viewpoints to be displayed, although research suggests

much of this political activity reinforces pre – existing beliefs – especially because people tend to be online friends with those that are most like them.

As the classes of social media make clear, social media have many different functions. First, they allow people to do identity work. When an individual puts who he or she is into a profile, it requires some kind of reflection. As individuals see reaction to their online social presence, they will consider themselves in new light and notice that online interaction allows them to feel more open about thoughts, opinions, and inquiries – both for better and for worse. Second, social media allows people to tend to their relationships in different ways. Even if popular discourse often demonizes outlets such as Facebook or Twitter as narcissistic and shallow, research shows

they allow people who may not otherwise be able to connect an outlet to interact. People also report meeting some of their best friends and even spouses through computer mediated communication platforms. Third, social media allow people to perform work functions. Sometimes the social media is their work, such as a popular blog or someone with a large social network circle being hired to promote events. Other times people interact with work colleagues. via social media sites or, especially with email, take care of most of their work communication using the social media outlet. Fourth, social media allow for people to seek information or share ideas. This information can range from political campaigns to local issues to disaster relief to where is a good place to buy plus size clothing. Fifth, and often in line with information sharing, people can also offer opinions or consider the opinions of others through social media. Finally, individuals can find entertainment through such sites.

Communications and dissemination of information spread has been revolutionized by technological breakthroughs and rapid advances. Technological development has greatly changed the way in which information is stored and transmitted. Chapman & Slaymaker (2002) avers that industrial society has progressed into an era of advance technological innovations, thereby affecting the way people live their lives and how organizations run their daily business activities. Technology is permeating people’s lives like never before. It is being used in all pheres of life such as health care, education, agriculture, banking sector, information seeking and retrieval, energy, manufacturing and transportation (Boutin, 2013). At the center of all technological developments is the growing use of the internet and mobile technologies (Dickey, 2013; Reference.com, 2017; Okiy, 2010). ICTs have been embedded in our everyday lifestyles to such an exetnt that there is an emerging concept called ‘internet of things’ (IoT). The ‘internet of things’ is refered to as a network of interconnected devices, objects or things that are able to communicate and exchange data using embedded sensors and the internet (Meola, 2016; Morgan, 2014). According to Rouse (2016, para. 2) “A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network”. This is how fast technology is changing our daily activities, the way we interact with one another and our interaction with nature. In today’s world, information societies are no longer separated. As stated by Nwagwu (2006), Okiy (2010) and West & Heath (2011); mobile phones, fax machines, the internet and other ICT facilities has accelerated the concept of globalization. With the use of technology individuals, organizations and government agencies are able to share ideas and work on projects from across continents. It is unfortunate that developing countries are at an ever increasing disadvantage in a globalizing world, as they fail to harness the benefits of the ongoing technological developments (Chapman & Slaymaker, 2002; Rodríguez & Wilson, n.d.). Nwagwu (2006; 179) also concurs that “the impact of ICTs in developing countries generally can be considered inegalitarian because their benefits accrue more to the rich than the poor developing countries, thus defining a new form of digital divide”. Therefore it is of paramount importance that developing countries know how to bridge the digital divide and be able to use ICTs to benefit all levels of society (Greenberg, 2006).Though the rate of technological development and adoption in developing countries cannot be compared to the rate of technological developments in developed countries; literature shows that developing countries are also facing an information explosion and relatively high numbers of information seekers who are using technology on an everyday basis. Bruijn (2009) gives an account of how ICTs revolutionized African countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Mali since the 1980s. Other studies also reveal that developing countries have implemented ICT policies, egovernment initiatives and they are making significant investments in various technological innovations e.g. in health and educational ICT (Bhuasiri, Xaymoungkhoun, Zo, Rho, & Ciganek (2012); Kozma & Vota, 2014). ICTs can possibly help developing countries tackle numerous issues such as health, social and economic problems. This can be possible if both government and the public have instant access to information that can influence decision making. It is there vital for information providers to adopt information communication technologies that will enable them to disseminate information in an effective and timely manner. Efficiency and effectiveness of information distribution by information repositories and access by information users, will potentially help developing countries to eliminate extreme poverty and combart serious diseases (Andrianaivo & Kpodar (2011); Delponte, et al., 2015).

The birth of technology and continuous ICT developments are changing in terms of information acquisition, storage, organization, maintenance and the methods of rendering services (Fagbola, Uzoigwe, & Ajegbomogun, 2011). The following are some of the methods used to disseminate information in the 21st century era. Most of these methods are self-service techniques which involve the use of technology such as laptops, smartphones, PDAs, MP3s, computers and many more. Online Public Access Catalogues and networked databases: due to online presence of catalogues, users are able to retrieve and access information resources in a timelier manner. Current OPACs can be accessed through the use mobile technology such as cell phones.

    1. Statement of research problem

The Nigerian federal government’s suspension of the operation of American micro-blogging company, Twitter, in Nigeria, might have left both in a catch-22 situation as the duo have lost millions of followers that they had built for more than half a decade. For Twitter the saga has cost it billions of cash, while Nigerians, in both private and public sectors have lost their means of instant communication.The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had last week announced the suspension of Twitter after the firm deleted some aspects of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, which the company found to be in breach of its rules. Following searing attacks of the suspension by social activists, who said it was an abuse of Nigerians’ freedom of expression as guaranteed by Section 39 (1) of the Constitution as altered, Muhammed added an extra reason for the act, saying the temporary prohibition of the internet platform was a response to the firm’s persistent violation of the nation’s national security interest. The suspension order had attracted a directive from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), asking all Telcos and broadcasting media to deactivate their Twitter handles and block access to the internet facility. Many Nigerians, have, however, circumvented the federal government’s blockage of the micro-blogging facility, resorting to the virtual private network (VPN) to connect Twitter. Although THISDAY’s checks showed that Buhari, his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), and many government agencies, including the armed forces, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), have suspended tweeting, some governors including Malam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Mr. Seyi Makinde (Oyo) have continued to tweet in defiance of the federal government’s directive. Analysts said on Monday that both the federal government and Twitter must be feeling the rough edges of the suspension as they suffer its adverse effect. For the Nigerian government, its agencies and millions of private sector users of the micro-blogging facility, it amounts to a loss of an instant communication tool, which had helped to facilitate the dissemination and receipt of information necessary for the conduct of their businesses. Agencies like Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that had used its Twitter handle to instantly communicate with the public information on the COVID-19 pandemic, would now have to revert to other pre-Twitter messaging platforms, including e-mail, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram that are not as fast, . A day after Mohammed announced the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had warned that violators of the ban would be prosecuted. But senior lawyers have questioned the legality of Malami’s order, saying that it is not grounded in law, adding that Nigerians could not be prosecuted for offences not specified by law. To calm the global outrage that the suspension of Twitter has generated, the federal government on Monday met with ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and Ireland in Nigeria and sought their understanding on its suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria. But save for the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, who deactivated her Twitter handle following the suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country, Buhari, Osinbajo and some other top government officials still retained their accounts, although they’re inactive. However, the federal government’s directive suspending Twitter’s operations in Nigeria was silent on whether or not Nigerians should deactivate their accounts. But a directive Monday by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had directed road and television stations in the country to de-install their Twitter accounts. However checks show that Twitter accounts belonging to government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are also being retained. Some of the accounts being retained belong to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Geoffrey Onyema; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Others include the Nigerian Police, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Super Eagles, the official Twitter account of Nigerian football team; and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), among many others. While most of these accounts are not active, the same cannot be said of their aides who have bypassed the networks to tweet with their Virtual Private Network (VPN). Also active are Twitter accounts of former Senators Shehu Sani and Dino Melaye, as well as el-Rufai who tweeted the link of a story on “Nigeria: African country teaches US lesson in how to handle Big Tech tyranny RT Op-ed.” While Akeredolu’s last tweet, on the attack on Igangan community in Oyo State was at 7.11 pm on Sunday, Makinde, at 9.45 am, on Sunday, tweeted to urge for calm over the attack on Igangan. Also, most churches are still active on Twitter with both Deeper Life Bible Church and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), justifying their accounts being active on the grounds that they need to reach congregants in other countries. The RCCG, in a clarification, said: “The Redeemed Christian Church of God is domiciled in more than 170 nations & territories. The tweets here are in accordance with Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Article 19 of the UDHR said: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Also, the Deeper Life General Overseer, Pastor Williams Kumuyi said: “In view of the Twitter ban in Nigeria, please note that the content shared on this handle is targeted at a global audience in more than five continents and over 100 nations and we share the content from any of these locations.”The federal government on Monday sought the understanding of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and Ireland over its suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria. It, however, gave conditions to lift the suspension. Also on Monday, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, called for a speedy resolution of the dispute. Addressing a press conference after a meeting with the five representatives of the missions in Abuja, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyeama, said they had a discussion concerning the issues of Twitter ban and based on the joint press statement earlier made by the missions. He said: “We had a useful discussion with the countries that are considered to be close friends and partners of Nigeria. We sat down and reviewed the whole situation and we stated the security concern of Mr. President and the whole Nigerians and the very strong steps we’ve taken to address the security challenges of the country.” Onyeama said they presented first-hand information about the security challenges of the country and also the role of the social media. He stated that social media is good for dissemination of information, but it can also be used for good and the bad. He added that the bad side of it has dire consequences on human lives and property. According to him, it is germane to keep the unity of the country and to achieve all these, a decision has to be taken and measures put in place to ensure the social platforms are used responsibly. He said as a democracy, the issue of fundamental human rights was expected to be respected, especially freedom of speech, adding that this should not be allowed to bring the country down. He stated that the five missions and their countries have been supporting Nigeria even with its security and development challenges. He said: “We have been having partnership and solidarity with the five countries. They have supported us very strongly in our security challenges, humanitarian crisis, development challenges and economic challenges, so we can say that these countries are our partners. We are asking them to also support us as we continue to confront all these challenges. “We have listened to them and they also have their views on all of these issues and we gave them the opportunities to also expressed themselves. “We are particularly gratified with the statement and reassurance of support and friendship towards Nigeria. We have to keep an eye on the main objective of this government, when Mr. President was elected, security was number one of his priorities and it is something he really wants to be able to deliver for Nigeria. “Without security, everything else fails, investments go out of the country, regular migration out, it will be a vicious cycle. “We will all be losers and our children, generation to come will all be affected. What we do today will really determine the future of this country. That is why this government gives priority to security, that this government would have to live in peace and security. And we have to keep our country together. “What we have done today, will really define the future of the country and that is why Mr. “President is absolutely determined that security has been made and Nigerians have to live in peace and security and that we have to keep our country together. We listened to each other and clarified some areas.” Onyeama, however, said the government was already discussing with Twitter on lifting the suspension. He said: “As you yourself have said, discussions are ongoing with Twitter, we want to see how that progresses. So I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension. There are conversations with our partners and with social media. “The basic condition is really responsible communication. We know the power of words and the power of words for good and the power of words for bad. You know when you have that kind of power to manage and facilitate the communication of billions of people around the world; it has to come with responsibilities. Absolutely, it has to come with responsibilities. So the condition will be a responsible use of media and that really has to be adhered to.” Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos, Adedayo Akinwale and Michael Olugbode in Abuja

    1. Objectives of the study

The primary objective of this study is as follows

  • To find out factors responsible for twitter ban
  • To find out how twitter ban has affected information dissemination in Nigeria
  • To find out acceptable ways by which dissemination of information can be made easy
  • To find out how to improve on information dissemination in Nigeria
    1. Research questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

  1. What are the factors responsible for twitter ban?
  2. How has twitter ban has affected information dissemination in Nigeria?

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