Technology

In Africa, content moderation is a dangerous game

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At the beginning of this month, Twitter removed a tweet from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists and violated the platform’s rules. Two days later, the Nigerian government suspended Twitter in retaliation, and it announced the news ironically on Twitter.A few months ago, the Uganda government Turn off After the conflict with Facebook and Twitter, the country’s Internet has several accounts related to the ruling party Suspended As “coordinated untrue behavior.”

The contest between African governments and large technology platforms is painful. Although the platform finally implemented their content policy, the result of these belated actions was worse than no content review at all: citizens’ access rights were cut off.

Human rights lawyer Activists in Nigeria and Uganda insist that these bans violate freedom of speech.However, in Uganda, the Constitutional Court has recently Dismiss the case Challenge the country’s Internet shutdown during elections. The court found that the ban was “in good faith and to ensure that the country is protected from the risk of incitement and violence”, setting a dangerous precedent.The overextension of authoritarianism is redefining itself, and as More territories Look for Quell objections From Congo to Ethiopia, technology companies often find that their human rights and content moderation principles run directly against their profit motives.

Nigerians also challenged the government’s decision in court on the grounds that the suspension of Twitter was to quell criticism. The country is falling back into Bukhari’s dictatorship, who took power in a military coup in the 1980s. Young people in Nigeria regard Twitter as the most active counter-oppressor.As we saw in the #ENDSARS protest last year, the platform have Amplify their voices and provide a way to hold the government accountable after the police openly fired on peaceful protesters Light slaughterNigeria’s booming technology ecosystem has the most start-ups in Africa, and it is also asking itself what the future holds, because the ban sends a threatening signal to investors. Many local businesses that sell goods through Twitter have also been affected.

The Nigerian government stated that the suspension of Twitter had nothing to do with the deletion of Buhari’s tweets; instead, they said it was to block the separatist leader it claimed “Issue Instructions” Through the platform. Regardless of the real reason, the fact remains that a platform is once again on the losing end of its fight against authoritarians.Response measures taken by governments Poland, Vietnam, with Pakistan Followed a similar template and is being called “The hostage-taking law.The script goes like this: suspend a social media platform, and then ask the platform to set up an office or hire a representative in the country, mainly to receive government orders and let them store data locally.Nigeria has Took the first step By requiring all social networking sites to be registered locally in order to operate in the country. In fact, the platform was forced to put its employees in danger——As we have seen in India, Twitter’s office has been repeatedly raided, and Brazil, A Facebook vice president was arrested.

Since the 2016 U.S. election, a large part of the “technical shock” has focused on promoting platforms to create systems to remove harmful content. The content moderation boom is now cracked. Before the emergence of Covid-19 and election misinformation, the difficulty of regulating the mass of content posted by billions of people every day was obvious. However, the current political challenges are daunting, and the long-term survival of the platform or the open Internet as we know it is unknown. more Content moderation may not be the best solution. It is commendable that Twitter has the courage to fight against authoritarian governments, but the company faces severe trade-offs. Deleting the content does not delete the root cause of the content.

As the platform counters the politics of African countries through fact-checking and review plans, the battle line will be drawn. Apart from making weak statements, Western governments have hardly responded. No severe sanctions have been taken against countries that violate the regulations. In the quarrel with the Nigerian government, Twitter will largely fend for itself, and the Nigerian government will win. Sadly, Twitter can never replace or compensate for a failed institution.

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