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The social media and the challenge of freedom of expression: A case study of Twitter Ban in Nigeria


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. However, the Federal Government has banned the use of Twitter. The aim of this study was to ascertain the social media and the challenge of freedom of expression: A case study of Twitter Ban in Nigeria. This study made use of the survey method in which questionnaires were disseminated to a total sample size of 266 respondents. Convenience sampling was used to determine the population size. Based on the findings of this study, it was revealed that the Twitter ban by the Federal Government has left a negative perception in the minds of of citizens. This study recommends that Government should be more accountable to its citizens when making huge decisions because they do not serve themselves but the citizens as is meant to be, in a democratic state, the Government should take down the Twitter ban and allow for freedom of expression on social media platforms without taking aggravated decisions and also, residents of Bida should use other means and other social media platforms to pass across information and conduct their businesses.




The Internet has offered both opportunities and difficulties to the newspaper industry. The internet has brought exciting new developments to news creation and distribution, but it also poses a threat to the conventional printed newspaper. Print newspapers had been established for more than 100 years when, in the 1930s, they experienced their heyday as the most widely read news medium in the United States (Douglas, 1999). The Internet, on the other hand, needed less than 15 years to claim that title when the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism discovered that, for the first time, more people obtained their news from the Internet than from newspapers at the end of 2010. (Rosenstiel & Mitchell, 2011). This momentous shift in the news media environment raises fresh concerns regarding the impact of the Internet on newsreaders, particularly their engagement with the news. Some have accused online newspapers for being merely material shoveled from their print counterparts, presented traditionally, without leveraging much of the Internet’s potential as newspapers migrate from traditional printed pages to the world of pixels and bytes (Gubman & Greer, 1997.) The Pew Center for Civic Journalism’s Jan Schaffer (2001) proposed that this be done with a “far more interactive toolset” since news online gives the chance to build a completely new method to deliver journalism. One of the characteristics that distinguishes the Internet as a media is its interactivity. Newspapers can provide in-depth reporting, while television can provide images and sound. When these features are offered online, consumers are frequently confronted with technological restrictions. Although these technical challenges may be addressed in a few years, Web journalism should still be able to provide something extra, something distinctive, now. In today’s climate, media organizations are attempting to establish whether online news is complimentary or competitive to their operations (Dutta-Bergman, 2004), while journalists are learning how to operate across different platforms (Huang, Davison, Shreve, Davis, Bettendorf & Nair, 2003).

Newspapers have a long history of seeking, gathering, analyzing, and creating news in a one-way daily delivery format, but the Internet may help users make the reporting process more transparent by allowing site visitors to see, hear, or read the sources that reporters used (Hlongoane, n.d.). Lowrey (1999, in Hlongoane, n.d.) stated that both journalists and consumers must create new methods for digesting news online rather of perceiving it as a modified form of print journalism in order to get to a position where sites make full advantage of the online features that make the Web distinctive. The internet enables for user participation. This is a benefit of using online publications. It provides publishers with the potential to generate additional revenue streams based on their main offering, data collecting and analysis, due to its low barrier to entry. The medium’s interaction has piqued the interest of many, pulling viewers away from television and back to a mostly text-based medium. Newspapers may be found on the internet in a variety of formats, including online newspapers (newspaper websites), e-papers, and even mobile applications (sometimes known as “apps”). While e-paper offers us the sensation of holding a real newspaper issue in our hands, with all of the layout and style, online paper and news mobile applications provide more opportunities for interaction. Newspapers have undergone a transformation in terms of both content and appearance. Interactivity has been improved through the use of color, graphics, blurbs, colorful headlines, attractive visual make-up, layout, and other patterns of display of written words. We are no more a “passive” consumer of “foreign” and “standardized news value-based” material; instead, we read about our own daily concerns, problems, events, and circumstances that we encounter in our daily lives. The new format has increased the reader’s engagement. Not just the media, but also the consumers’ priorities, lifestyles, needs, and tastes have shifted in recent years, forcing the media to adapt. We are approaching a new era of involvement, in which the lines between consumer and producer are blurring more and more. This is particularly obvious in the media sphere, as newspapers are striving to create a more active engagement with their readers than in the past.

Twitter is a social platform that provides users to follow one other and send messages that are limited to 140 characters. Relationships on Twitter may be entirely one-sided, unlike on other social networking platforms. For example, one user may follow another without the later being obligated to follow the first. Twitter burst onto the scene in March 2006, owing to its simple user interface, which stood in sharp contrast to its rivals, who were allowing users complete customization of their personal pages at the time, resulting in a crowded, gaudy appearance (Experian, 2009).

Twitter has always welcomed third-party developers, providing a flexible application programming interface (API) and enjoying unparalleled celebrity appeal (Twitter Counter, 2010). However, despite its widespread popularity and extensive mainstream media attention, Twitter’s growth has lagged behind that of Google and Facebook after their respective first three years. Google has 18 million users, Facebook has 27 million, and Twitter has 8 million (Battelle, 2009). As Twitter approaches its fifteenth year of operation, it can no longer be considered a new kid on the block, but many people are still unsure of its purpose or if it has any value for them. It’s “for finding and sharing what’s going on in your life right now,” according to Twitter. While this is accurate, and regrettably, by its very nature, most of the material posted is ‘pointless chatter,’ it fails to see Twitter’s economic potential (Java et al., 2007).


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. (Aljezeera.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 Aljezeera, “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”.

It is therefore, against this backdrop, that this study seeks to investigate the perception of newspaper readers on the Federal Governments ban on Twitter.


The primary aim of this research is to investigate the The social media and the challenge of freedom of expression: A case study of Twitter Ban in Nigeria. Thus, the following;

  1. To determine the effects of Twitter ban on the residents of Bida.
  2. To investigate the perception of people on the Twitter ban.
  3. To determine the extent to which this has affected the residents of Bida.


The following questions guide this study;

  1. What are the effects of Twitter ban on the residents of Bida?
  2. What perceptions do people have on the Twitter ban?
  3. To what extent has this Twitter ban affected the social life of residents of Bida?


This research will delve into the unanticipated consequences of Nigeria’s erratic decision to ban the usage of Twitter. In light of this, the study will also educate/apprise the Nigerian government on the hazards that the country’s indefinite suspension of Twitter may cause, as well as enlighten them on the significance of listening to their citizens’ opinions. More so, for all residents of Nigeria, this study will proffer relevant recommendations that will aid and strengthen online social interaction so as to always be enlightened about the happenings in society. Lastly, this study will serve as a source of relevant information for students, researchers, other academics, and the general public.


This study is delimited to the effects of the Twitter ban on the residents of Bida, Niger state. It will also cover the social media and the challenge of freedom of expression A case study of Twitter Ban in Nigeria and the extent to which this Twitter ban affects them. The respondents of this study will be obtained from Bida, Niger state.


The major limitations of the study are insufficient funding to involve many respondents in this research and to carry out the other logistics required in this study. Also, the time factor was another constraint where the researcher had to share available time with academic work and conducting of this research within the given time frame. Also, Inadequate materials needed for the success of this study were another factor that limited this study.


  1. TWITTER: Twitter is an American micro blogging and social networking website on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”.
  2. BAN: A ban is an official or informal prohibition of something. Bans are created for the restriction of activities within a specific political region.
  3. NEWSPAPER: A printed publication (usually issued daily or weekly) consisting of folded unstapled sheets and containing news, articles, advertisements, and correspondence.


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