Technology can be used as weapon or tool – Minister

Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor  Isa  Pantami says Technology can be used as a weapon or a tool, depending on the user’s intent.

Professor Pantami stated this while playing host to a delegation of video-focused social networking service, TikTok, in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The Minister who was represented by the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa advocated for laws and regulations in social media usage.

According to him, this is to ensure a safer digital space, devoid of illegalities and promoters of fake news
He also expressed concerns bordering on security, tax payment, direct contact with TikTok and general content hygiene.

“There is a need for you to be more transparent on what you do with the data, experience you take and your algorithm design; because most algorithms are designed to promote hate speech.”

He stressed the need for a penalty for anyone who uses social media to commit a crime noting that anything that is illegal offline should also be illegal online.

“In Nigeria, people are using TikTok for so many things; some use it to promote rituals and domestic violence while others use it for hate speech; so, we cannot continue to have people put out random contents without appropriate checks/verifications.“

The Minister recalled the issues that ensued between the Federal Government and Twitter which led to the suspension of the platform’s operations in Nigeria also said the microblogging and social networking service had to agree and meet certain conditions upon which its ban was lifted.

He explained that these conditions are to be extended to other social media platforms, including TikTok.

“We are working on drafting “The Code of Practice” which we are going to share with you soon; get your feedback and see how we can make it better.”

He reiterated the need to direct contact with the company to agree on the timeline to either delete erring content or suspend accounts that violate rules.

The Minister encouraged Tik Tok to register and have an Office in the Country to enable prompt Communications for subsequent engagements.

The leader of the TikTok Delegation and  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.

These include taking a deep dive into how contents are moderated; developed and how policies are enforced

“We 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 our users feel safe and comfortable online

Our 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.”

Tukan confirmed 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.

“We take misinformation and fake news very seriously, and it’s actually against our community guidelines; we have policies that address misinformation, we also have a system (the human elements as well) that looks into this issue as well.“

The team leader also affirmed that the Company is open to conversations with the Nigerian Government regarding updating its rules and regulations to ensure a more excellent user experience.

NITDA expressed optimism that the engagement and subsequent ones would translate to having a safer digital space for every Nigerian, especially as TikTok has become one of the most preferred video-focused social networking services.

Technology can be used as weapon or tool – Minister

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