Nigeria asks Facebook, other platforms to curtail hate speech


FILE PHOTO: A man opens the Facebook page on his computer in Abuja, Nigeria March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria is monitoring Meta Platforms Inc's Facebook and other platforms to ensure they comply with demands to curtail hate speech on their sites, as it steps up its campaign for responsible use of social media, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Tuesday.

Mohammed's comments came after meeting with Facebook's team in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. He said Facebook had done nothing to curtail the activities of separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on their platform despite several complaints.

Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB's leader, is standing trial on charges that include terrorism and broadcasting falsehoods. A judge will decide on Wednesday on whether Kanu should be granted bail.

Mohammed said the separatist group has been classified as a terrorist organisation and that "Facebook has no justification for yielding its platform to the organisation to further its campaign of hate and destabilisation of the country".

Nigeria is facing secessionist agitation which has given rise to regional calls for power-sharing between southern and northern Nigeria.

The country is also dealing with insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, a weak currency amid double-digit inflation and slow growth.

Mohammed said the Facebook meeting was called to discuss the increasing use of the social media platform by separatists based outside Nigeria to instigate violence and ethnic hatred in the country in English and local language.

He said the government has no intention of preventing Nigerians from using social media but is advocating responsible use.

Nigeria lifted a six-months ban on Twitter in January after the social media company removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists. Telecoms companies subsequently blocked access to users in Nigeria.

(Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha)

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