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FG Seeks Partnership With Google To Tackle Hate Speech, Fake News

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The Federal Government wants to collaborate with Google to prevent, aggrieved elements, proscribed groups, religious extremists, and political separatists from accessing YouTube channels and other platforms to broadcast or share fake news, divisive information, and hate speeches.

This plan was disclosed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed when a Google team visited him in Abuja on Thursday.

Alhaji Mohammed said, “We want Google to look into how to tackle the use of private and unlisted YouTube channels and YouTube live streams by proscribed groups and terrorist organizations. Channels and emails containing names of proscribed groups and their affiliates should not be allowed on Google platforms,”

He noted that Google is a platform of choice for IPOB, a proscribed terrorist group, so he implored the tech giant to deny IPOB the use of its platform for its acts of violence and destabilization.

The Minister observed that Nigerian youths are versatile with social media to earn a living while the platforms are also used by unscrupulous persons or groups for subversive and nefarious activities which is why this approach was made.

“Nigerians are among the most vibrant social media users in the world, with over 100 million Internet users in the country, and internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and WhatsApp enable Nigerians to interact, share ideas earn a living and participate in social and political affairs” he said.

He also spoke on the Online code of conduct recently unveiled by the federal government, adding that the “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/ Internet Intermediaries” is an attempt to provide a framework for collaboratively protecting Nigerian users of Internet platforms.

“This code couldn’t have come at a better time, as the country prepares for general elections next year. We are committed to working with platforms like yours as well as the civil society, lawyers, media practitioners, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure responsible use of the Internet and to protect our people from the harmful effects of social media,” he said

In his remarks, Google Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Mr. Charles Murito, said the platform has introduced a programme called “Trusted Flaggers” for citizens trained to track and engage with online content in order to flag the contents of serious concern.

“As I mentioned earlier, we share the same sentiments, we share the same goals and objectives and we do not want our platform to be used for ill purposes,” he said.

In furtherance of the development, Google Government Affairs and Public Policy Manager, Mr. Adewolu Adene, said “Equiano”, a subsea cable which recently berthed in Nigeria from Portugal, is aimed at enhancing connectivity and access to the internet as well as to drive down the cost of data, in order to create jobs and facilitate the transfer of knowledge.

He added that through the Google News Initiative Challenge, 30 media platforms, with 5 from Nigeria, including the Dubawa fact-checking platform, would be awarded a $3.2 million grant in recognition of their innovative work in information dissemination.

Mr. Adene also pledged the readiness of Google to work with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to digitize the recently-repatriated artefacts in order to preserve and market them to a global audience through Google Arts and Culture.”

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