Twitter faces another setback for taking action against a political leader’s tweets. According to Reuters, Nigeria has suspended Twitter for allegedly “undermining” the country by removing a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter said the post violated its abuse policy by threatening to punish secessionists who allegedly attacked government buildings.
Attorney General Abubakar Malami meanwhile claimed the nation would prosecute anyone who tried to bypass the lockdown using VPNs and similar tools.
It is not clear how extensive the lockdown will be. The web version of Twitter was unavailable on some Nigerian phone networks on the morning of June 5, but both the app and website were usable with other providers.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter protested the suspension. The company said in a tweet that it was “deeply concerned” about the actions of Nigeria and considered the open internet a “fundamental human right”.
The incident reflects the fine line that Twitter often tries to move between being open and complying with both its own guidelines and local laws. While it often shies away from censorship and potential invasion of privacy, it also avoids local laws, which are sometimes used to block tweets or increase access to sensitive information.
The company has also routinely attracted multiple criticism for applying its rules to political leaders. While some have accused Twitter of keeping leaders by a separate standard, others have blown the social network for allegedly censoring votes when it takes action. Twitter is unlikely to find a happy medium in Nigeria – it’s just a question of how much damage the social media giant is taking.
We are deeply concerned about the Twitter lockdown in Nigeria. Access to the free and #open internet is an essential human right in modern society.
We will work to restore access to everyone in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #Go on
– Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 5, 2021
The federal government has suspended the microblogging and social networking service Twitter in Nigeria for an indefinite period.
– Fed Min of Info & Cu (@FMICNigeria) June 4, 2021
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