IMPACT OF TWITTER BAN ON ONLINE SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
1.1 Background Of The Study
Social media, over the years, has been described as a means of interaction between people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. The increasing popularity of social media platforms has created new digital social networks in which individuals can interact and share information, news, and opinions with unprecedented speed and ease. Consequently, the use of such technologies appears to have the capacity to transform current social configurations and relations (with the public and civic spheres inclusive). Within the social sciences, much emphasis has been placed on conceptualizing social media’s role in modern society (Mossberger, Tolbert, & McNeal, 2008; Trottier, 2012) and the interrelationships between online and offline actors, institutions, events, and political and social change (Edwards, Housley, Williams, Sloan, Williams, 2013). Thus, according to Edwards et al. (2013), networked digital technologies are transforming mass public communications in various ways, facilitating not only new forms of antagonism and social fragmentation, but also deliberation, debate, civil participation and other forms of social interaction (of which Twitter is a typical example).
Twitter is a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users’ tweets by using multiple platforms and devices, thereby facilitating the swift dissemination of information. Tweets and replies to tweets can be sent by cell phone text messages, a desktop client or by posting on the Twitter website (Gerbaudo, P. 2012). In other words, Twitter promotes social interaction and public participation in various issues of human concern. As a result, the unrestricted interactive nature of Twitter has provided numerous opportunities for the public to interact with various issues in their society.
Regardless of Twitter’s significant role and opportunities, some countries around the world have banned its use in their societies, including Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Iran, China, and, most recently, Nigeria.
On 5 June 2021, the Nigerian government announced the suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country indefinitely over “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”. The unprecedented and drastic decision to suspend Twitter in the country will, without a doubt, have a wide-ranging impact on the country.This study, on the other hand, is specifically concerned with the impact of Twitter’s ban on online social communication.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
The Nigeria Federal Government suspended the operations of the microblogging and social networking service Twitter in Nigeria. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, 5 June 2021, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence. (Aljezeera.com).
According to Ajezeera.com, about 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, more than Ghana’s entire population of 32 million. And the platform, over the years, has promoted and enhanced social interaction among Nigerian citizens as they discuss social issues, political issues, share educative information and many more. According to Emmanuel Alumona, who was interviewed by Aljezeera,
“Twitter is like my newspaper. Whenever I want to check what’s happening in the country and peoples opinion, I refresh my timeline, however it is too hard to bear the ban of twitter as most Nigerians like me may no longer be updated about the happenings in the society”.
It is therefore, against this backdrop, that this study seeks to investigate the impact of the Twitter ban on social communication in Nigeria.
1.3. Objective Of The Study
The primary objective of this study is to examine the impact of the Twitter ban in Nigeria on social communication. As a result, the specific goals are as follows:
- Examine if twitter ban in Nigeria will disrupt swift follow of information in the country.
- Investigate if twitter ban will delimit the expression of public opinions and perceptions towards social and political issues in the country.
- Determine the extent to which twitter ban will affect online social interaction in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Hypothesis
An hypothesis refers to an experimental statement, tentative in nature, showing the relationship between two or more variables. It is open to testing and can be accepted or rejected depending on whether it agrees or disagrees with the statistical test.
The study will test the validity of the following hypothesis:
H01: Twitter ban in Nigeria will not disrupt the swift follow of information in the country.
H02: The Twitter ban in Nigeria will not delimit the expression of public opinions and perceptions of social and political issues in the country.
H03: The Twitter ban in Nigeria will affect online social interaction among residents of Nigeria to a large extent.
1.5 Significance of the study
This research will delve into the unanticipated consequences of Nigeria’s erratic decision to ban the usage of Twitter. In light of this, the study will also educate/apprise the Nigerian government on the hazards that the country’s indefinite suspension of Twitter may cause, as well as enlighten them on the significance of listening to their citizens’ opinions. More so, for all residents of Nigeria, this study will proffer relevant recommendations that will aid and strengthen online social interaction so as to always be enlightened about the happenings in society. Lastly, this study will serve as a source of relevant information for students, researchers, other academics, and the general public.
1.6 Scope Of The Study
This study is delimited to examining if twitter ban in Nigeria will disrupt swift follow of information in the country; investigating if twitter ban will delimit the expression of public opinions and perceptions towards social and political issues in the country and determining the extent to which twitter ban will affect online social interaction in Nigeria. The respondents for this study will be obtained from social media users in Benin City, Edo State.
1.7 Limitations Of The Study
The major limitations of the study are insufficient funding to involve many respondents in this research and to carry out the other logistics required in this study. Also, the time factor was another constraint where the researcher had to share available time with academic work and conducting of this research within the given time frame.
Inadequate materials needed for the success of this study were another factor that limited this study. The sources of literature and conducting of interviews in order to validate this research posed a barrier to the researcher.
1.8 Definition Of Terms
Twitter: Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking website on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”.
Social Communication: Social communication refers to the emergence of verbal and nonverbal skills, social interaction, and social cognition.
Ban: A ban is an official or informal prohibition of something. Bans are created for the restriction of activities within a specific political region.
Ajazeera New: How Nigeria’s Twitter ban stands to impact people, businesses:https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/6/7/nigerian-twitter-ban-how-government-restriction-affects-people.
Ajazeera New: Nigerians on Twitter react to Nigeria’s Twitter suspension: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/4/nigerian-twitter-users-blast-govt-ban-of-social-media-giant
Edwards, A., Housley, W., Williams, M., Sloan, L., Williams, M. (2013). Digital Social research, social media and the sociological imagination: Surrogacy, augmentation and re-orientation. International Journal of Social Research Methodology
Gerbaudo, P. (2012). Tweets and the streets: Social media and contemporary activism. London, England: Pluto Press.
Mossberger, K., Tolbert, C. J., McNeal, R. S. (2008). Digital citizenship: The Internet, society and participation. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Trottier, D. (2012). Social media as surveillance. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.