The federal government has summoned Facebook over what it said was the continuous use of the platform by separatist groups, particularly members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB).
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, met with the delegation from the social media platform on Tuesday, a statement from the minister’s aide, Segun Adeyemi, said.
Mr Adeyemi said his principal instructed Facebook which, according to him, has not been doing enough to checkmate the situation, to step up their game and yank off separatists using the platform to incite violence.
He said officials of the government would continue to monitor the development to see if their directive is strictly implemented.
“I have called this meeting to enable us to discuss the increasing use of Facebook by separatists and anarchists, especially those of them based outside the country, to instigate violence and ethnic hatred in Nigeria,” the minister was quoted as saying. “For whatever reason, they seem to have now chosen Facebook as their platform of choice. And their tools include disinformation, incendiary statements and hate speech.
“They use Facebook broadcasts to reach their followers, who are in thousands. They tag those opposed to their violent ways as ‘saboteurs’ who must be attacked, maimed and killed. They use both English and their local language as it suits them.
“By purveying hate and inciting violence, people are getting killed while private and public property are being attacked and destroyed. Security agencies and other symbols of government are their choice targets.
“Our social media people have been monitoring these separatists, anarchists and purveyors of hate, and have been reporting their atrocious actions to Facebook, but all they get are default responses that their complaints have been received and are being looked into.
“Most often than not, nothing has been done about such complaints… The truth is that whatever Facebook is doing to check these people is mere tokenism and is totally ineffective.
“We have always advocated a responsible use of social media, and consistently called on all stakeholders to join us in achieving this. Some have tagged our efforts as an attempt to stifle social media.
“They are wrong, because we have no intention of preventing Nigerians from using social media responsibly. All we have been advocating is a responsible use of social media,” he added.
Last year June, Twitter users were prevented from using the platform after the social networking site deleted a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari deemed genocidal.
The federal government said it banned it on realising that secessionists were using it to propagate their activities, a submission most Nigerians rejected, saying the ban which most of them used Virtual Private Network (VPN) to circumvent was due to the deleted tweet seen as bruising the president’s ego.
Earlier in the year, the government lifted the ban saying Twitter has agreed to its terms and conditions but Nigerians are of the opinion that it was lifted due to the electioneering season.