OrderPaperToday- The Nigerian Senate has introduced a bill to curb fake news on social media into the legislative mill entitled “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations’ wherein it proposed a fine of 5 to 10 million naira for organisations whose platforms are used to spread fake news and 150 naira or a three year maximum jail term or both for individuals caught in the same act.
The bill, which passed first reading on Tuesday was sponsored by Senator Musa Sani (APC, Niger) and essentially seeks to stop the increasing spread of fake news on social media platforms.
OrderPaperNG reached out to Senator Sani who explained that the bill intends to improve the social development of the country and provide a guide on how to “tolerate” activities on the social media.
According to the Senator, it is not aimed at gagging the media or stopping anyone from going about their legitimate business but to stop the documentation of fake news in the social media space along with its attendant consequences.
He explained, “So this legislation, some journalists will look at it as if we are trying bring a legislation that will gag the Social Media or right to free press. It is a legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on the social media.
“False information has been disseminated so many times and have cause so many chaos in different parts of the world. See what happened in Rwanda, the xenophobic attacks.”
He cited countries like Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, France, Indonesia and Egypt that have put out control measures to prevent the spread of false information.
“What stops us from doing it? There has never been a time where Nigeria has been very fragile in terms of its unity than this period,” he stated, while again stressing, “It is not to stop people from going into the internet to do whatever they feel legitimately is okay to do but what we felt it is wrong is for you to use the medium to document information that you know is false, just because you want to achieve your desirable interest.”
“If anyone is caught in this kind of situation, you will cough out between N150,000 to a maximum imprisonment of three years or both.
“And if it is a corporate organisation that refused to block that false information despite the fact that they have been alerted by authorities not to disseminate that information for public interest and they still go ahead to do it, refusing to do that blockage will be penalised between N5 million to N10 million.
“For example, MTN, Glo, 9 mobile, etc. which we use their platforms in transmitting these information, if nothing is done, we will fine them and you will see that it will be a deterrent to others”, the Senator said.
A similar bill was introduced in the 8th Assembly but failed following widespread criticism of its intention to gag the media and limit press freedom.