There has been an awakening in Nigeria since the start of the #ENDSARS protests as more Nigerians are now demanding accountability from the leaders. Through various social media platforms, mainly Twitter, Nigerian youths have expressed their grievances and issues with the leaders.
However, rumours of a social media bill being passed surfaced and while some of the leaders were against it, some have openly expressed their approval.
“The #ENDSARS protesters mobilized using social media, and the war today revolves around two things. Smartphones and data and these young men don’t even watch television, listen to the radio or read newspapers. We must, however, regulate social media in a manner that it doesn’t become a purveyor of fake news and hate speech.” – Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture.
How would this affect the nation at large if this bill was passed? Here’s a list of African countries that have regulated the social media over the years and the effect on the fashion industry.
Earlier this year, the government of Tanzania banned the use of social media as a tool for organising, planning or even supporting protests, just like the #ENDSARS one here in Nigeria. Under their new legislation, all acts from above, as well as publishing topics under sexuality, religion, public safety and many more is now considered illegal.
The regulation was made public by the Tanzanian Information Minister, Harrison Mwakyembe,
“Contents that are involved in planning, organising, promotion and calling for demonstrations, marches or the like, that would lead to public disorder are prohibited.”
Due to this new regulation, there has been a recorded dip in posts churned out by content creators and creatives generally.
The East African country which is known for their abundance of raw materials, including leather, has also tightened control over internet use through outright content blocking, filtering and surveillance. Many bloggers and journalists have, over the years, been charged with terrorism as a result of their published articles, both online and offline.
The country has also recorded a total blackout of the internet where nobody was allowed access to internet services and this disrupted businesses to a large extent. The social media hate speech bill which was passed into law imposes a three-year jail term or 3,100 USD fine for people found guilty of disseminating hate speech on social media or any other broadcast media.
Stated to be disguised under a dictatorship light, the government of Uganda has recently started dabbling in social media censorship. The government is trying to place a tax of 200 Ugandan Shillings, which is about 0.05 USD per day for a range of mobile applications, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
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#infographic : What to know about Nigeria’s social media bill: Heard a lot recently about a bill restricting social media in Nigeria but didn’t know what that meant until I actually read it. The bill is available online, pls learn what it means for the country ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . Nov 2020 UPDATE: This was originally made Dec 2019. [ 👨🏾💻 @ayodoodles ] #socialmediabill #artgram #nigerianpolitics #freespeech #saynotosocialmediabill #markerart #markerdrawing #adrawingaday #artivism #sociallyconscious
A post shared by The Nigeria Report 🇳🇬 (@thengreport) on Nov 4, 2020 at 2:01am PST
According to John Nyanyuki, the Amnesty International Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lengths,
“The primary motivation behind the social media tax is to silence speech, to reduce spaces where people can exchange information and to really be able to control, with the recognition that online platforms have become the more commonly used way for sharing information.”
Effect On The Fashion Industry
As you may already know, since the advent of social media, numerous advertising channels have popped up to help fashion brands reach their target audience. If this new regulation is implemented, fashion brands and houses may not be able to dedicate specific fashion shows and events to the insurgencies happening around, as they may be targeted as hate speech.
If you still don’t get why we’re against the social media bill, I hope this helps. The bill is too vague & leaves room for misinterpretation for personal use. With how boldly our leaders have lied to us over the past few weeks, they can’t be trusted #SayNoToSocialMediaBill pic.twitter.com/sQ5fPoRBDC — ebele. (@ebelee_) November 4, 2020
Also, publicly advertising outfits that speak out against the wrongs of the government may also have adverse effects on the brand involved as this would go against the laws of the state.
Although the social media bill in Nigeria has not been passed yet, it is still one of the most-talked-about topics on social media as users have taken to a new hashtag on Twitter, #SayNoToSocialMediaBill.