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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Twitter agrees to Nigeria’s demands to end seven-month ban

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Twitter has agreed to register in Nigeria and pay local taxes to end a seven-month ban, the BBC understands.

This will come as a big surprise to many Nigerians, who had assumed that the Nigerian government had backed down following months of negotiations, says the BBC’s Nduka Orjinmo in Abuja.

Nigeria suspended the social media firm last June after it deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It accused Twitter of siding with secessionists.

Before ending the ban, the Nigerian government insisted that Twitter:

  • Register in Nigeria
  • Appoint a designated country representative
  • Comply with tax obligations in Nigeria
  • Enrol Nigeria in its portal for direct communications between government officials and Twitter to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules
  • Act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws

Twitter has not officially commented on what it did to be allowed to work in Nigeria again, but it has tweeted that it is “pleased” to be back and is “deeply committed to Nigeria.”

However, the BBC understands that it has mostly agreed to the government’s demands.

Millions of people in Africa’s most populous country will be able to use the platform again as a result of the change.

 

Many Nigerians used virtual private networks (VPNs) to access the site after it was suspended, but most corporate organisations, including many media outlets, complied with the government’s order.

 

According to analysts, the ban has cost the Nigerian economy millions of dollars, particularly for small businesses that use the platform to reach their customers.

 

The move by Nigeria’s government last year sparked an international outcry over freedom of expression.

The social media company’s decision to register in the country demonstrated its commitment to Nigeria, according to the country’s information technology development agency.

The government had ordered internet service providers to block Twitter, claiming that it was being used to undermine “Nigeria’s corporate existence” through the spread of fake news, which could have “violent consequences.”

 

This followed Twitter’s removal of President Buhari’s post referring to the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War and treating “those misbehaving today” in “the language they will understand.”

 

Twitter is popular among many Nigerians, and the platform has been used as a tool for mobilisation. It was used by activists to rally support during protests against police brutality under the hashtag #EndSars, which gained international attention.

 

Despite the ban, many Nigerians continued to tweet, and some are now recognising the VPNs that allowed them to do so.

 

User Ugegbe tweeted that she didn’t want to delete her VPN, as it would feel like a betrayal.

 

SourceBBC
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