We had the option of shutting down social media during #EndSARS protests, says FG

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Sunday Dare, minister of youth, says the federal government had the option of shutting down social media during the #EndSARS protests but chose not to do because it is “committed to the rights of every citizen”.

Speaking when he featured on a Channels Television programme on Monday, the minister said it is important to regulate social media.

Many Nigerians have kicked against the planned regulation of social media.

Already, a bill to effect the regulation has scaled second reading at the senate.

But during the interview, Dare said the regulation of social media would not contravene the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

He said “everyone is worried about the negative impacts of fake news,” saying there is danger if Nigeria fails to regulate the social media.

“The talk around regulation, of course, we have a national assembly, it will have to go through the normal process. We have a constitution, we have to make sure it does not violate certain provisions of the constitution that has to do with freedom of expression,” he said.

“Where you have fake news destroying lives, the government has a responsibility to make sure that there is a level of control. It is not censorship but some level of control.

“The talk about the regulation of social media has been around for a while. We’ve seen other countries taking practical steps in that direction, this country has not done that.

“Even during the #EndSARS protests, the country had an option but the country never went for that final option.

“There was no time the cyberspace was shut down, people were still able to connect themselves through the various social media platforms.

“The protests brought home the dangers of fake news. Several months back, Nobel Laureate Winner, Professor Wole Soyinka said fake news is like the bomb that can destroy the world and it is sure that the bomb will come from Nigeria.

“What happened during the protests has been reviewed to a certain extent. We have seen debunking of several of the stories of deaths that came up.”

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