The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami has emphasized the need to entrench transparency, laws, and regulations in social media usage to ensure a safer digital space, devoid of illegalities and promotion of fake news.
He stated tthis when he received delegation of video-focused social networking service, TikTok, in his office in Abuja.
Professor Pantami who was represented by the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa listed some important issues including security, tax payment, general content hygiene and the need to have direct contact with TikTok.
He pointed out the need for them to to be more transparent on what they do with the data, experience they take and their algorithm design; because most algorithms are designed to promote hate speech.
According to the DG, technology can be used as a weapon, or a tool”, which he noted depends on the user’s intent.
He said there should be consequences for anyone who uses social media to commit a crime and maintained that anything that is illegal offline should also be illegal online.
He regretted that Nigerians use TikTok for so many things; some use it to promote rituals and domestic violence while others use it for hate speech; and government cannot continue to watch people put out random contents without appropriate checks/verifications.
The NITDA Boss who recalled the issues that ensued between the Federal Government and Twitter which led to the suspension of the platform’s operations in Nigeria said the microblogging and social networking service had to agree and meet certain conditions upon which its ban was lifted.
The conditions, the DG explained, are to be extended to other social media platforms, including TikTok.
He emphasized the need for direct contract with the company to agree on the timeline to either delete erring content or suspend accounts that violate rules.
He encouraged TIKTOK to register and have an Office in the Country to enable prompt Communications for subsequent engagements.
The leader of the TikTok Delegation & Head of Government Relations and Public Policy, TikTok- Middle East, Turkey, Africa and Pakistan, Farah Tukan, said the team intends to host a series of workshops in Abuja and Lagos with the aim of enlightening Nigerians on how the platform works; taking a deep dive into how contents are moderated; developed and how policies are enforced.
She said they are committed to providing opportunities for Nigerians to earn a living through their creativity and expression, and as a global platform that thrives on creativity, it is essential that the users feel safe and comfortable online.
She explained that the tik tok user policies and tools are developed to promote a positive and safe environment for our community, and we trust that users will respect and utilise these measures to keep TikTok fun and welcoming for everyone.
She expressed TikTok’s readiness to explore more areas of collaboration with the agency to continue to contribute to keeping Nigerian users safe on its platform as well as promote the creative industries in Nigeria.
Adding that they take misinformation and fake news very seriously, and it’s actually against their community guidelines.
She said the Company is open to conversations with the Nigerian Government regarding updating its rules and regulations to ensure a more excellent user experience.