To curtail the spread of false news and several other vices perpetrated through social media platforms, the Nigerian Senate has proposed a bill to bridle its use.
With the title ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019’, the social media bill which passed first reading on Tuesday and is sponsored by Senator Sani Musa proposed that anybody who publicise fake stories on any social media app will either undergo a three-month jail term or pay a fine of N150, 000.
Also for corporate organizations who instead of blocking false news despite warnings from the regulatory agency will pay within N5m and N10m.
Telecommunications agencies that provide networks to the dissemination of false stories might also face the law.
Speaking to newsmen concerning the bill, Musa a representative of the Niger East in the upper chamber of the National Assembly said that the aim was not to restrain the use of social media but to guide its users.
He said, “Nigeria is not only for the government but for every Nigerian and we must all work towards moving this country to where it needs to be.
“You can see America and other advanced countries today; they have been together for hundreds of years.
“They had their period of turmoil and challenges like ours, but they have been able to pass through.
“How did they do it? There is a rule of law because people are obeying the laws.
“For a country like Nigeria today and with the advent of social media, there is every reason for a country to as much as possible focus its attention on how this new media is tolerated.”
According to him, a person could stay within the confines of their bedroom and post a rumor just to spoil someone’s image
The lawmaker continued, “I have a passion for IT and I know what it takes to disseminate your information, it is like the speed of light.
“Some journalists will look at this legislation as if we are trying to bring a law that will gag social media or the right to free press.
“It is legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on social media.
“False information has been disseminated so many times and it has caused chaos in different parts of the world.
“If countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, France, Indonesia, Egypt are putting control (measures in place) to prevent the spread of false information, what stops us from doing it?”