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Mass media, over the years, has been described as a means of interaction between people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. The increasing popularity of Mass media platforms has created new digital social networks in which individuals can interact and share information, news, and opinions with unprecedented speed and ease. Consequently, the use of such technologies appears to have the capacity to transform current social configurations and relations (with the public and civic spheres inclusive). Within the social sciences, much emphasis has been placed on conceptualizing Mass media’s role in modern society (Mossberger, Tolbert, & McNeal, 2008; Trottier, 2012) and the interrelationships between online and offline actors, institutions, events, and political and social change (Edwards, Housley, Williams, Sloan, Williams, 2013). Thus, according to Edwards et al. (2013), networked digital technologies are transforming mass public communicatons in various ways, facilitating not only new forms of antagonism and social fragmentation, but also deliberation, debate, civil participation and other forms of social interaction (of which Twitter is a typical example).

As is well known, the press is also a part of the mass media. Press organizations are tumultuous and tumultuous institutions that serve as platforms for power struggles in the public sphere. They provide a forum for public debate on current events and have a large readership. The press is still an important aspect of democracy and popular participation around the world. President George W. Bush (2008) stated on World Press Freedom Day that press freedom is established in the first amendment of the United States Constitution, which recognizes freedom of speech as a requirement for a free society. Similarly, Nigerian administrations have included journalistic freedom in their constitutions. ‘Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to have opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference,’ according to Section 24 (1) of Nigeria’s 1960 Constitution (Akinola 1998). The right to freedom of expression and the press is also stated in Section 39 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999).

The dynamic between the many cultural and ideological elements affecting press freedom in Nigeria reflects the view that the press is an important factor in the democratic environment (Merrill 1974). According to Abati (1998), the breadth of press freedom in Nigeria is determined by the political system in place. Democracy, on the other hand, has created opportunities for press organizations all around the world to survive.

The necessity for this arises from the fact that, while practically every constitution in the world guarantees press freedom, each country’s traditions and requirements have caused it to be interpreted differently.

To put it another way, experts from Africa, Asia, and South America have differing perspectives on the function of the press and the concept of press freedom. Diego and Ruth (2016), for example, argue that press freedom is a pillar of democratic institutions. Freedom of information is “a pillar of democracy,” according to Freedom House (2015), and “threats to media freedom… offer a sharp challenge to democratic values” (p.21). Meanwhile, according to Bamidele (2013), press freedom is the weapon that protects journalists and other media workers from all sorts of impunity in its genuine sense. Their differing ideas reflect the wide range of views on what press freedom entails. As a result, a high level of press freedom is required for the development of inclusive knowledge societies and democracies, as well as the promotion of discourse, peace, and good governance. To secure the safety of journalists and to eliminate impunity and violations of human rights, a strong press freedom is required. It is impossible to have an informed, active, and engaged public without press freedom and sufficient protection for journalists (Okunna & Popoola, 2015). Further on the importance of press freedom, Wolfenson (1999), cited in Ciboh (2014), said: “A free press is not a luxury. Because you can’t enfranchise poor people, if they don’t have a right to expression, if there isn’t a searchlight on corruption and inequitable practices, you can’t build the public consensus needed to bring about change, you can’t construct the public consensus needed to bring about change” (p.1).

Bamidele (2013) agreed, stating that “press freedom is a cornerstone for human rights, a keystone that guarantees other freedoms, a supporter of openness and good governance that ensures the rule of law” (p.19). Lowenstein (1966), referenced in Ogbondah (undated), stated: “A truly free press is one in which newspapers, journals, news agencies, books, radio, and television have absolute independence and critical ability, save for minor libel and obscenity restrictions.” There is no concentrated ownership, marginal economic units, or organized self-regulation in a truly free press. A press that is entirely controlled lacks independence and critical skills. Government, self-regulatory authorities, or concentrated ownership have complete control over newspapers, magazines, books, news agencies, radio, and television under it” (p.10-11).

It is critical to emphasize that the press’s professional role is that of a society watchdog (Udomisor & Kenneth, 2013). Its ability to act as a watchdog over the government, monitoring and investigating the actions of those in power and informing citizens about abuses of power, specifically through reporting of their misdeeds so that the perpetrators can be punished, sanctioned, and deterred, has been recognized as a catalyst for press freedom and development since then. It’s no surprise that Okoro and Chinweobo-Onuoha (2013) see the press as a valuable weapon for information transmission, social mobilization, and control, as well as a method of public education and development, and as such a vital institution that affects people’s lives. They stated that this might be accomplished through the use of the press as a tool.

As democratic countries have replaced authoritarian regimes in Africa, the media environment has shifted dramatically, with a massive increase in the number of press organizations (Karikari 2004). The number and range of journalistic organizations in Iraq increased dramatically after Saddam Hussein’s administration fell in April 2003. Kim and Hama-Saeed (2008) discovered that previous to the Western invasion, Iraqi journalistic organizations were operating under various government restraints as well as pressures from political parties and religious groups, based on in-depth interviews with 22 Iraqi journalists working in the country. Terrorists and extremists repeatedly intimidated Iraqi journalists, they discovered. Currently, the survival of Iraq’s young press organizations is predicated on the country’s political uncertainty, sectarian warfare, and foreign involvement. The shift from military to civilian rule in Nigeria from 1979 to 1983, and after 1999, has led in an increase in the number of news organizations, similar to the situation in Iraq. In 1999, Nigeria had two government-controlled television stations, fourteen licensed private television stations, eighty-two AM radio stations, thirty-five FM radio stations, and eleven short-wave radio stations (Hudgens and Trillo 1999).

The end of the Cold War was widely credited with the expansion of democracy, progress of human rights, and the adoption of neoliberal reforms, however numerous nations have yet to fully implement the civil right to press freedom. Few countries have a good reputation when it comes to press freedom, and journalists in many countries, including Nigeria, continue to struggle to fully exercise this privilege. Benin was ranked first in Africa and nearly tied with the United Kingdom on the worldwide press freedom ranking in 2005. (World Bank 2006). Benin’s abundance of free press organizations was fueled by highly motivated local cultural change activists. Private radio stations, fueled by the cross-fertilization of foreign and indigenous ideas, made a significant contribution to the establishment of press freedom and the promotion of grassroots political innovation in Benin (Kohnert 2006).

Similarly, community radio stations formed in the Democratic Republic of Congo made a significant contribution to the country’s democratic transformation, particularly by distributing critical information to the general public, including the comparatively isolated individuals living in combat zones. According to estimates of the influence of private media growth in Madagascar, during the late 1990s, over ninety private radio stations have started broadcasting (Tettey 2008). Following the hotly disputed presidential elections of 2001, private media helped to enhance political stability. Periodic civic education, election monitoring, reporting political activity, and broadcasting election results are all important tasks of the press in democracy. The impact of a vibrant media ecosystem on citizens’ engagement with their political system has been studied extensively (Fard et al. 2007; Karppinen 2007; Kuenzi and Lambright 2007; Aiyede 2000). Since the early 1990s, a study of African countries that have had two consecutive multiparty elections found a strong link between media exposure and voter turnout (Kuenzi and Lambright 2007). Public discourse and political participation in society are influenced by access to critical information.

The role of news organizations to public awareness has long been acknowledged. Irate inhabitants of Côte d’Ivoire deposed General Robert Gue in October 2000 when he declared himself victor of an election he had lost during the ballot count, demonstrating their awareness of the East Germans’ method of mass action against authoritarian government. The demonstrators in Côte d’Ivoire were inspired by the popular uprising in Yugoslavia in September 2000, when President Slobodan Milosevic attempted to nullify an election in which he was defeated (Onishi 2000). This relationship was demonstrated by an Ivorian student demonstrator who said, “Gue made the mistake of letting us view scenes from Belgrade” (Bandura 2002:12). Bandura (2002) reasoned as follows in his analysis of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire: These macrosocial uses of media inventiveness in translating social cognitive concepts into social practice demonstrate how a tiny collective effort may make a significant difference in an urgent global problem… The public is disillusioned and cynical about whether its leaders and institutions can work for them to improve their lives as nations struggle with the loss of control (Bandura 2002:13).

Citizens’ ability to obtain and use information about electoral processes, according to Schaffner (2006), could be valuable instruments of accountability before, during, and after elections. The press is meant to be the most trustworthy source of public knowledge, yet conditions in different countries demand otherwise. Scholars discovered that numerous Middle Eastern countries had made little progress in establishing procedural democracy and civil freedoms (Spinks et al. 2008). They did, however, affirm that the region’s monarchs are liberalizing. Threats to press freedom in Paraguay have drew the attention of the international media. The Paraguayan Union of Media characterized 2007 as a year of struggle, setbacks, and progress for the country’s journalists, while the International Press Institute noted that journalists who exposed corruption faced intimidation and death threats (Swaffield 2008). Paraguay has been dubbed one of Latin America’s most unstable democracies.

Six private press organizations in Chad have opposed a regulation that establishes new infringements and heavy penalties for journalists. They intended to start a newspaper to protest government restrictions on press freedom (Africa Research Bulletin 2008). Many African countries have a bad track record when it comes to civil liberties. Scholars argued that press organizations formed as autonomous power centers in conflict with other power centers in the post-apartheid South African experience (Kriesi 2008; Jacobs 2002). Given its status as the world’s most populous Black Country, Nigeria’s case is unique. As designed and enforced on civil society by colonial rulers, later military oligarchies, and their civilian counterparts, Nigerian constitutions are elitist (Nwabueze 1997). Nigerian constitutions’ elitism creates concerns about illegitimacy and impunity in human rights violations. The following section examines the current debate in Nigeria on the state of the press.

Democracy is reliant on effective communication networks, which are channeled through the press, in a symbiotic relationship (Jacob 2002). However, press organizations that are supposed to support democracy and are supposed to be fostered by democracy may be used to preserve elite interests at the expense of the general public.

Twitter is a free social networking micro blogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users’ tweets by using multiple platforms and devices, thereby facilitating the swift dissemination of information. Tweets and replies to tweets can be sent by cell phone text messages, a desktop client or by posting on the Twitter website (Gerbaudo, P. 2012). In other words, Twitter promotes social interaction and public participation in various issues of human concern. As a result, the unrestricted interactive nature of Twitter has provided numerous opportunities for the public to interact with various issues in their society.

Regardless of Twitter’s significant role and opportunities, some countries around the world have banned its use in their societies, including Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Iran, China, and, most recently, Nigeria.

On 5 June 2021, the Nigerian government announced the suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country indefinitely over “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”. The unprecedented and drastic decision to suspend Twitter in the country will, without a doubt, have a wide-ranging impact on the country. This study, on the other hand, is specifically concerned with the impact of Twitter’s ban on online social communication.


Various necessities of social media exist and Twitter is one of the most used social media platforms in Nigeria. The Nigeria Federal Government suspended the operations of the micro blogging and social networking service Twitter in Nigeria. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, 5 June 2021, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence. (Aljazeera.com).

According to Ajezeera.com, about 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, more than Ghana’s entire population of 32 million. And the platform, over the years, has promoted and enhanced social interaction among Nigerian citizens as they discuss social issues, political issues, share educative information and many more. According to Emmanuel Alumona, who was interviewed by Aljazeera, “Twitter is like my newspaper, whenever I want to check what’s happening in the country and peoples opinion, I refresh my timeline; however it is too hard to bear the ban of twitter as most Nigerians like me may no longer be updated about the happenings in the society”.

The ban on twitter, which can be termed as a wrong choice by the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has raised eyebrows amongst citizens of the country (Kolstad & Wiig, 2009). Twitter, as one of the most popularly used forms of media in Nigeria for a variety of purposes above all else can lead to individual’s indulging in different unscrupulous activities, such as finding other negative means to access the app, also, businesses of individuals are dependent on the advertisements they put out on this platform and as a result of this platform being banned, these individuals may result in other devious businesses in order to survive (Fisman & Miguel, 2008). Government may also see this as a means to perform some unscrupulous acts. Also, Twitter offers a civic platform for citizens to air grievances and help shape public opinion. Twitter may build public pressure to compel corrupt politicians to quit and lose political power by “highlighting policy failures, maladministration by public officials, corruption in the courts, and scandals in the business sector” (Norris, 2004).


The primary objective of this study is to examine the restrictions on mass media in the 21st century. Using Twitter as a case study, the following objectives are instrumental for this study;

  1. To investigate the extent to which the government interferes or restricts the mass media from fully exercising its rights.
  2. To investigate how often government places restrictions on the various mass media.
  3. To determine the effects of government restrictions on mass mediums like Twitter.


The following questions guide this research;

  1. To what extent to which the government interferes or restricts the mass media from fully exercising its rights?
  2. How often does the government place restrictions on the various mass media?
  3. What are the effects of government restrictions on mass mediums like Twitter?


This study will be significant as it will bring to the fore the issue of the government infringement on the right of the media to execute its responsibilities to both the state and the people of the state. Based on the fact that the government has kept this as a recurring act, this study will allow for the exposure of such acts by the government.

This study will also be an addition to the body of knowledge on press freedom and allow for further research to be conducted in a relating topic or on this same subject matter.


This study will only cover Twitter and not all the other social media platforms. Also, the extent to which the government interferes or restricts the mass media from fully exercising its rights will be looked into as well as how often government places restrictions on the various mass media and the effects of government restrictions on mass mediums like Twitter.


This study was limited to only Twitter as it will be too excruciating to take into considerations any ban that in the past had been placed on any other form of mass media. Also, during the course for this research, the researcher was faced with time constraints.


  1. BAN: A ban is an official or legal prohibition of a particular thing or action. In this study, a ban refers to the official prohibition of Twitter.
  2. TWITTER: A social media platform for the purpose of communicating to a recipient or target audience.
  3. SOCIAL MEDIA: websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.




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