(BREAKING) FG vs SERAP: Access to Twitter is fundamental right, govt can't arrest anybody for using Twitter, ECOWAS court says

By Prince Osuagwu

Five days after the federal government banned Twitter activities in the country, the microblogging platform is still unfazed and carries on as if nothing has happened. It has neither issued an official statement nor allowed its officials to entertain discussions around the ban.

The ban which the Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said was necessary because of the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, has attracted hue and cry from prominent Nigerians who feel the action was an attack on free speech.

Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, Babajide Sanwo Olu of Lagos, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Paradigm Initiatives of Nigeria, PIN, and SERAP are among notable people and organizations that have condemned the ban.

Flashback

Background of the issue was set at a town hall meeting convened by INEC with relevant stakeholders, to examine the likely effects of the activities of arsonists who have targeted several offices, facilities and equipment of INEC, particularly in the South East.

President Buhari, had in response to the agitations for Biafra by IPOB activists, said: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian civil war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

The video of the statement circulated round with many people giving it different interpretations, mostly pointing to a veiled reference to the civil war that claimed millions of lives particularly in that part of the country.

Apparently relying on its safety rule which states: “Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence,” Twitter on June 2, deleted the post on its site.

In what many have described as retaliation, the federal government on May 4, suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria.

Since that action, the country’s economy, according to Netblocks.org has lost over N10 billion.

The platform said it relied on booking institution methods which relied on development indicators, approximated digital economy extent of 0.05 and classic free app GDP impact technique to arrive at its conclusion. Being an artificial intelligence, AI-based study, Netblocks is popular and its statistics are almost perfect at all times.

Also, several small-scale businesses, social media influencers whose services are heavily reliant on Twitter, have continued to groan under the weight of economic meltdown.

However, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, is yet to say a word. His disposition to the ban is predictable going by twitter’s statistics in Nigeria.

Though some report estimated Nigeria Twitter users at 40 million as earlier stated in this article, there is no credible data to support that claim.

As of May 2021 Twitter has a market share of 25.52 per cent in Nigeria as against Facebook’s 56.46 per cent. It only managed to get ahead of Pinterest at 7.83 per cent, Instagram at 5.25 per cent YouTube at 3.41 per cent, and LinkedIn at 0.86 per cent.

In sharp contrast, former president of the United States of America, USA, Donald Trump has over 88.9 million Twitter followers, towering above Nigeria’s numbers by over 48 million.

Donald Trump’s presence on social media attracted attention worldwide since he joined Twitter in May 2009. He frequently tweeted during the 2016 election campaign and as president, he popularised Twitter’s status.

From the creation of his account in 2009 until December 2020 Trump tweeted around 57,000 times, including more than 25,000 times during his presidency.
In fact, Trump’s tweets were considered “official statements made by the President of the United States.”

Trump’s tweets deleted

Incidentally, in January 2021, Twitter deleted some of his tweets viewed to have violated its rules, and also went ahead to suspend him from the platform indefinitely.

If Trump with such a huge following could be removed from Twitter, and the company’s revenues still stand strong, there is little wonder why Jack Dorsey appears unpertubed with the development in Nigeria.

Moreso, other key statistics to the growth of Twitter do not also appear to show that Nigeria is a force to reckon with.

Although the minority of Nigerians using Twitter, still form part of the most vocal and politically active segment of the population, it does not translate to much revenue to Twitter.

Many young people have used Twitter and other social media recently to organize anti-government protests. And, Nigeria has been among the best-performing African countries in attracting investments for technology start-up businesses, but from market share statistics, Twitter is not much of s beneficiary.

In terms of advert revenue, Twitter does depend more on companies outside Africa. The US alone generates revenue for the company more than the rest countries of the world put together.

The world vs US on twitter

In 2018 Twitter made $1.6 billion from the US as against the $1.4 billion it made from the rest of the world. In 2019 the US alone dropped $1.9 billion into its coffers, when the rest of the world added $1.5 billion to its wealth.

In 2020 the US market made Twitter richer with $2 billion when the rest of the world brought in $1.6 billion.

With these statistics, Twitter would be more concerned if the American government threatens its corporate existence than when Nigeria does. Twitter has 186 million daily active users and 38 million users are from the United States alone. Twitter’s Yearly Revenue

Twitter generated $0.3 billion 2012, $0.6 billion in 2013, $1.4 billion in 2014, $2.2 billion in 2015, $2.5 billion in 2016, $2.4 billion in 2017, $3 billion in 2018, $3.4 billion in 2019 and $3.7 billion in 2020It enjoys an 8.8 percent increase year-on-year and 86 percent of its revenue came from advertising.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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