Nigeria has been ranked as the 66th country in the world to restrict social media access in the last six years.
This is according to a report by Surfshark, a virtual private network service provider company based in the British Virgin Islands.
Last Friday, the federal government announced the “indefinite” suspension of Twitter over “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
The government also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all over-the-top media services (OTT) and social media operations in Nigeria.
Twitter’s suspension by the federal government came days after President Muhammadu Buhari’s post on the 1967 civil war was deleted by the microblogging platform.
The report, titled “June 2021 Social media censorship tracker,” released by Surfshark, analysed global social media restrictions in five regions – Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania – highlighting the most prominent cases of interruptions and restrictions.
It stated that at least 30 countries in Africa have blocked or heavily restricted social media access between 2015 – 2021, especially during elections, protests, demonstrations, or examinations.
Gabrielle Racaityte-Racai, communications manager at Surfshark, acknowledged that since the inception of social media, it has over the years become a strong political player that drives change across the world, and governments have been looking for ways to block or censor it.
“Social media has established itself as a key political player of its own. However, as its influence grows, so does the governments’ desire to censor it by introducing new laws, restricting access, or blocking social media altogether,” Racaityte-Racai said.
“In 2021 alone, they have been eight political cases of internet disruption across the world in Uganda, Russia, Myanmar, Senegal, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
“In the past, at least 16 countries, Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Burundi, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Togo, Tanzania, Benin, DRC, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone have restricted access to social media due to elections. And at least 7 countries – Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe – have restricted access to social media in the past due to protests and demonstrations.”
The federal government has said it can only restore the operations of Twitter if citizens can use it “responsibly”.