Nigerians Protest Social-Media Bill That Could Lead to Chilling Effect on Free Speech

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Nigerians have taken to social media to protest a bill currently before the country’s Senate that could lead to heavy fines and jail time for sending “abusive messages.”

According to Human Rights Watch, Nigerians could spend two years in prison and be fined $10,000 for disseminating messages meant to “set the public against any person and group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law” over text message or social media. That penalty is light compared to the maximum seven years in prison one might receive for spreading “false information that could threaten the security of the country or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government through electronic message.” Exactly what types of messages meet these requirements is not specified in the legislation.

On Twitter and elsewhere, #NoToSocialMediaBill is trending as users express their frustration at the possibility of the bill’s passage and its sponsor, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah.

Nigerians Protest Social-Media Bill