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FG engages TikTok on Data Transparency, Online Safety

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami has emphasised the need to entrench transparency, laws, and regulations in social media usage.

This, according to Professor Pantami, is necessary to ensure a safer digital space, one devoid of illegalities and promoters of fake news.

He stated this when he received a Delegation of video-focused social networking service, TikTok, in his office in Abuja.

The minister, who was represented by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, listed some important issues, including security, tax payment, general content hygiene and the need to have direct contact with TikTok.

“Technology can be used as a weapon, or a tool,” he said, stressing that it depends on the user’s intent.

According to him, there should be consequences for anyone who uses social media to commit a crime.

Anything, he said, that is illegal offline should also be illegal online.

Professor Pantami also said it was regrettable that Nigerians use TikTok for so many different things: while some use it to promote rituals and domestic violence, others use it for hate speech.

Government, he warned, “cannot continue to watch people put out random contents without appropriate checks/verifications”.

He recalled the issue that ensued between the Federal Government and Twitter, which led to the suspension of the platform’s operations in Nigeria, saying the micro blogging and social networking service had to agree and met certain conditions upon which its ban was lifted.

The same conditions, he explained, are to be extended to other social media platforms, including TikTok.

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

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

He encouraged TIKTOK to register and have an Office in the Country to enable prompt Communications for subsequent engagements.

The leader of the TikTok Delegation & Head of Government Relations and Public Policy, TikTok- Middle East, Turkey, Africa and Pakistan, Farah Tukan, said the team intends to host series of workshops in Abuja and Lagos with the aim of enlightening Nigerians on how the platform works; taking a deep dive into how contents are moderated; developed and how policies are enforced.

She said they 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 the 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,” she added.

Ms Tukan expressed TikTok’s readiness to explore more areas of collaboration with the agency, in order to continue to contribute to keeping Nigerian users safe on its platform as well as promote the creative industries in Nigeria.

Reporting by Chioma Ezike, editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor