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Friday, November 17, 2017

Social Media Too Critical To Be Ignored – FG

…75% of Nigerians use social media

ABUJA – The Federal Government says it is set to formulate policies and guidelines that would guarantee free and secure use of the social media space, saying that the platform has become too critical to be ignored or undermined by any serious government.Social media network
The Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu disclosed this while delivering his keynote address at the two day retreat for social media handlers in the ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in Abuja.
He said that federal government is set to propound policy guidelines that would ensure the safety of users of the cyber space.
He said government will not limit Nigerians’ access to social media solely on the basis that it may be used to express views critical of the government or the social-political system, but for protecting critical expression on the internet by which governments are now held to be genuinely democratic.
‘‘Government will proactively propound free and secure policies that ensure use of technology based platforms of interaction in the social media.
‘‘Nigerians should feel free to discuss government policies and engage in responsible political debates; report corruption and exercise their right to expression of opinion and dissent.
Government will defend and keep to its commitment to human rights, transparency, rule of law and accountability.’’
Shittu said the Ministry is committed to enhancing the institutional presence of government on the internet so that all Nigerians regardless of their social or demographic status can have ubiquitous access to government information and services, adding that the Buhari led administration activities are being delivered by leveraging ICTs to enhance government activities are enhanced by the adoption of new media tools that provide interactive and instantaneous feedback on achievements of government.
He further disclosed that about 75 percent of Nigeria’s online population uses social media; and the number keeps growing on both social networking sites and blogging sites growing by around 70 v percent in the last year.
He warned that the dangerous trend of the platform which is also being perpetrated by some bloggers and online journalists requires urgent attention to promote development, peace and well-being of our nation.
The minister further urged the users of social media to imbibe and promote the ideas of excellent government citizen interaction based on the use of cultured language, publication of facts and respect for the governed as the source from which Government derives legitimacy.
He also charged the operators of social media platform must guard against the distractions the social media generates and focus on their respective key deliverables.
‘‘There is no doubt that the inventors of social media platforms have good intentions such as making communication easier, faster, secret and untainted. With this, the world becomes a full global village.
‘‘Though this technological breakthrough has contributed immensely to rapid development in various climes, our domestic use of social media platforms to promote divisive, tribal, parochial, fabricated and sentimental information, messages and ideas capable of disintegrating the country need to be checked.
‘‘We must draw inspiration from the adoption by enterprising young Nigerians in the entertainment, arts, online journalism, e-commerce and other industries to achieve phenomenal strides in their various professions and endeavours.
‘‘These young Nigerians have clearly demonstrated the power of the social media to build and sustain brands,’’ he added.
The minister who decried some of the challenges to moderating social media platforms such as: lack of effective Legislation; abuse of political gains; use of fake ID’s; and
​cross-border threats also listed some of the gains.
They include: creating the means to improve governance; opening up access to government and government officials; saving time and money; and creating new ways of working.
In his remarks, the director, Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commissions, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo said there is no denying the fact that social media has become an indispensable tool in governance. He stressed the importance of being factual in communication on the social media which he said can help build confidence.
On how government can leverage social media in governance, he said ‘‘communication in governance should be done with openness and having facts so that when you give the information, you back them up with facts because when you do not have facts, you create doubts.
According to him, any organization that ignores social media is doing so at its own peril.
Source: Exclusive NG

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