From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) on Tuesday in Kano, raised the alarm over the spate of hate speeches by Nigerians on the Social Media, expressing fear that if left unchecked could throw the country into needless ethno-religious crises.
Revealing a study by CITAD with support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on the wave of hate speeches on Nigeria’s Social Media space, CITAD’s Coordinator on Countering Hate Speech Project, Hamza Ibrahim told journalists in Kano that hate speech on the ethnic line has continued to topple other categories since November, 2019.
According to him, perpetrators of hate speech mostly used Twitter which carried 60 per cent hate speeches, as against Facebook’s 39 per cent and Webpage’s one per cent.
He added that male hate speech speakers ranked 81 per cent, female five per cent, while 14 per cent were categorized as unknown speakers.
Hamza further lamented that the Social Media is negatively being used to promote ethno-religious violence, gender inequality and political crisis, calling on government to activate regulatory agencies to sift information on Social Media, as it is done in developed countries, though he insisted that CITAD vehemently kicked against the proposed bill on hate speech, which he described as draconian to freedom of information.
According to him, CITAD is continuously raising awareness, as well as campaign and advocate to addressing the consequences of the hate speech phenomenon on Social Media.
He added that CITAD has been tracking and countering hate speech and online violence, pointing out that, “bearing in mind that the population of Nigerians on Social Media platforms is speedily growing, and the online visibility of conventional media also gives room for discussion.
“We have consistently noticed ethnic tension through comments and remarks of Nigerians on Social Media. The volume of ethnic-based hate speech we have been tracking and countering previously is evidence that out of 387 hate speech instances captured in November, 2019, 124 representing 32 per cent were ethnic based.”
Hamza said in December, 2019, out of 205 cases of hate speech, 69 instances, representing 34 per cent were ethnic-based, adding that, “this shows how intolerant people of different ethnic groups and linguistic affiliations are becoming.
“A country as vibrant as NBigeria should not under-estimate the power of tolerance decay and ought to, therefore, put measures in place to ensure sustainable mutual coexistence, respect, unity and love for one another amongst people no matter the difference in tribe, religion, region or language.
“It is also alarming that we have witnessed a rise in hate speech related to gender in the last two months, the category has never gotten to 10 per cent, but, it is worrisome that it is 19 per cent and second after ethnicity category in December, 2019.”
Hamza, however, called on traditional rulers, administrators of groups on Social Media, social media handlers, social media influencers and regulators, to do something very urgent to curb the menace of hate speeches on social medial platforms, which he agreed spells impending doom for Nigeria.