There’s been yet another instance of governments trying to grapple with the question of whether and how to regulate online discussion, this time from Nigeria, whose government is apparently planning to require social media platforms to open local offices.
Thus, at some as yet unspecified date, online platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Tiktok will be required to register and open offices in Nigeria and appoint contact persons with the government. According to ITWeb Africa, the local office stipulation will apply to “all platforms whose users are more than one hundred thousand”.
But that’s not all. Reuters reports that the country’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said the platforms will be required to provide annual information on registered users, the number of closed and deactivated accounts, and what content has been removed, as well as whether it has been reposted or reuploaded, among other things.
Information about why certain online content is popular is also to be supplied as part of the new rules, as is fast removal of a number of types of explicit non-consensual content that aims to harass, disrepute or intimidate an individual.
The NITDA has insisted that the new rules are meant to curb online abuse, including disinformation and misinformation. It has also claimed that the regulations were developed with input from such major players as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and TikTok, although whether they are all happy with the resulting rules is not clear.
This is an ongoing issue in Nigeria of course. As we reported at the time, in January the government lifted its ban on Twitter after securing assurances from the social media company, ending a seven-month blockade of the platform that began with a dispute over a deleted tweet by the country's president. These assurances apparently included opening a local office in Nigeria with a representative to work with the government.
Russia tried something similar last year, though many social media groups delayed opening local offices and are now unlikely to bother after the invasion of Ukraine.