Former US President Donald Trump issued a statement supporting the Nigerian government’s decision to ban Twitter activities in the country for deleting a tweet by the official handle of the Nigerian president, Muhamadu Buhari.
“Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President,” he said in the statement.
The ex-president also encouraged other countries to follow in Nigeria’s footsteps and ban Twitter and Facebook.
“More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech — all voices should be heard. In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil? Perhaps I should have done it while I was President. But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was. 2024?” he added.
Trump’s approval is coming days after Nigeria suspended Twitter indefinitely. The government made the judgment days after Twitter deleted Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet for violating its abusive behaviour policy and several calls by Nigerians to take it down. His tweet threatened punishment on secessionists in the southeastern part of the country.
Although the Nigerian President, via his spokesperson, later declared that the state-wide ban on Twitter was only a temporary measure to curb misinformation and fake news, new directives suggest otherwise. The government ordered broadcasting media to delete their Twitter accounts and stop using the platform as a news source on Monday, which further confirms a ploy to stifle free speech and enforce censorship.
“In compliance to the above directive, broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source (UGC) of information gathering for news and programmes presentation especially phone-in,” an excerpt of the statement read.
On the other hand, Trump has been on the receiving end of not one but two bans. In early January, he was permanently banned from Twitter after instigating the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Twitter cited concerns over the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
He was subsequently suspended indefinitely on Facebook. Last Friday, the social media juggernaut announced its decision to reconsider Trump’s suspension in two years (which starts counting from January).
“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded,” vice president for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, Nick Clegg said.
“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”
Twitter Ban Further Weakens the Depleting Nigerian economy
NetBlocks, a global internet monitor, says Nigeria is losing about $250,000 (£176,000) each hour the ban on Twitter is in place and analysts say this ban may further weaken the economy and increase the already high unemployment levels for young people.
Netblocks claims Nigerian government’s Twitter ban has cost the country over N6 billion naira since the ban came into effect days ago.
NetBlocks is a data-driven web application that allows anybody to rapidly and simply evaluate the economic cost of Internet outages. The digital rights platform uses statistics from the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and Eurostat to evaluate the economic effect of an internet outage, mobile data blackout, or app restriction. According to their calculations, shutting down Twitter for 3 days in Nigeria has cost the country over N6 billion naira.