Muzzling the Fifth Estate: An analysis of the 2015 ‘Social Media’ Bill in Nigeria

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstractpeer-review

Abstract

Considered as the fifth estate of the realm and sentinel of society, the media, particularly social media and mobile social networking applications hold leaders accountable by exposing corruption and policy failures. Although many politicians accept media criticism as intrinsic to liberal democracy, some politicians stifle such criticisms by enacting obnoxious laws or intimidating media outlets to silence their critics. This is the case in the 2015 ‘anti-social media’bill in Nigeria. The ‘anti-social media’bill also known as frivolous petitions bill if passed into law, stipulates two years imprisonment, a fine of two million Naira or both for anyone who, through text messages, tweets, WhatsApp or any other social media platforms, post critical comments of a person, group of persons or an institution of government. A qualitative content analysis of the bill demonstrates that the bill is trying to rein in on online commentators. Then, from the qualitative and quantitative analysis of Facebook and Twitter data, results indicate that digital media users in Nigeria are not ruffled by the bill and have asked the Nigerian Senate to strike out the bill. These findings illustrate that while online networks help citizens monitor their leaders, however, in terms of freedom, that it is not yet uhuru for the fifth estate. Rather than a paradox, the Nigeria case has implications for press freedom in other countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages1-1
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2016
EventAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2016 Annual Conference - University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia - University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
Duration: 6 Jul 20168 Jul 2016
https://anzca.org/conference-event/anzca-conference-2016/

Conference

ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2016 Annual Conference - University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
Abbreviated titleCreating Space in the Fifth Estate
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityNewcastle
Period6/07/168/07/16
Internet address

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