It all started with a tweet from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari last Wednesday. He reached out directly to the Biafran independence movement from Ipob, which allegedly attacked government buildings. “Those of us who have been in the field for 30 months, who have been through the war, will treat ‘the secessionists’ in the language they understand,” said the leader.
Government sues citizens who try to log into Twitter
With these threats, according to Twitter, the president broke the rules of the social network and decided to remove this publication. Excited by this decision, the government immediately decided to suspend the platform indefinitely. The Ministry of Information and Culture therefore advises that the platform “is used for activities that could undermine the very existence of Nigeria”.
The social network denied this choice by claiming:
We are deeply concerned about the Twitter lockdown in Nigeria. Access to the free internet and an 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.
In fact, many Nigerians manage to get around the ban with the help of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). It must be said that the website is one of the most important means of expression on the internet to criticize power. For its part, the government does not hear this and has ordered the authorities to prosecute residents who continue to use Twitter despite the ban.
Note that this case revives the theme of moderating comments from online politicians. During the suspension of Donald Trump by most of the major platforms, many observers were actually moved to see that private actors were able to silence a democratically elected leader. Others accuse the web giants of being too tolerant of the excesses of certain politicians.