Is Trump right to suggest other countries follow Nigeria’s Twitter ban?
- Twitter originally claimed itself to be the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”
- Twitter permanently banned Trump on January 8, 2021 “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
- Mark Zuckerberg made the initial decision on January 6, 2021, to ban former President Trump from Facebook and extended the ban to 2023 (two more years) on Friday, June 4.
- On the same day, June 4, Nigeria announced their ban on Twitter for “undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” because of fake news.
- Former President Trump responded to Nigeria’s Twitter ban supporting their decision and expressing regret that he did not take those steps as president.
Former President Trump has once again shown how out of step with mainstream America he is by promoting Nigeria's ban on Twitter as a model for other nations to follow. The majority of Americans and many of our elected leaders are calling for more regulation on platforms like Twitter and Facebook out of concern for the spread of hate speech, violent content, and misinformation.
Make no mistake; this is not an argument about free speech. Extreme and violent content, as well as misinformation, are dangerous to society and need to be reigned in. Those waving the free speech banner, such as the former president, want to abuse this constitutional privilege to promote their dangerous and undemocratic agendas. It's also ironic that Trump is suddenly so keen to promote freedom of expression after four years of calling for the demise of major news publications because he didn't like their coverage of him. Directives from the Nigerian Government make it clear that the ban imposed in that country is intended to stifle independent journalism, a key feature of open democracy and something no country should attempt to ban.
Nigeria's move to ban Twitter after Twitter first banned their president will encourage other countries to allow free speech. Free speech is a useful right in the United States, and encouraging other countries to ban platforms that prohibit it will take those countries in the direction of having free speech for their citizens. In addition to setting an example for other countries, Nigeria's Twitter ban sets an example for citizens, teaching them to rise up against unjust silencing. According to The Guardian, Donald Trump said, 'More countries should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech—all voices should be heard,' a statement with which many can agree. The Twitter ban sends a message to other countries that restriction of free speech won't be tolerated and that people will fight for what they want.
It's wrong for a social media platform built for people to ban them, especially leaders. The leader of a country should have access to social media platforms to be an informed and active member of her or his country. Banning the president of Nigeria is not only disrespectful, but it also prohibits his total involvement in his country's social discussions.
Banning individuals isn't the right way to handle the situation in the first place. Instead of prohibiting the president for his tweets, actual punishments should be enacted, and an apology should be demanded. Banning people won't make unwanted beliefs and ideas go away. Rather, those same messages will end up on other platforms and underground sources where they can grow unchecked into real, extreme issues. Banning them only separates these people from society rather than allowing them to recognize their wrongdoings.