The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Charles Aniagwu, has thrown his weight behind the much touted social media bill at the National Assembly, stating that it will be wrong not to have laws regulating the activities of social media users in the country.
Speaking at a workshop on website management organized by the Directorate of Orientation, Ministry of Information, Delta State, Aniagwu wondered why it has become a crime to establish laws that would protect users in an age when the social media has become a platform scammers use in duping victims.
His words: “The privilege I have here is that I covered the National Assembly, where laws are made, and I am also a journalist. The mistake we make here is that we become very afraid of laws even when they are not made. Everything under the earth need to be regulated, whether you like it or not. The marriage you have between you and your wife, is it not regulated by Law? So I don’t know why people get too sentimental when you talk about certain things.
“What is not good is over regulation. Let us assume I go to the social media, and I now begin to put a picture of your wife, put your wife’s head, put another person’s body, and I say that your wife is naked and all that. How do you take that to the court?
The reason why laws are reviewed and amended is because the society is changing. As the society changes, you bring in new laws to take care of certain things. Individuals are crying now because maybe it has not touched them. When it touches them, they will realize that it is not a question of whether it’s from the National Assembly or not.
The CPS also stated: “Why are we regulating the traditional media? What is the difference? Why can’t we regulate citizen Journalism? If there are rules guiding the ethics of journalism, why will you say now that there are other aspects that should not be regulated by laws? The only thing we should kick against is if anyone wants to ban, or if anyone wants to restrict people. But there must be moral justifications for the things you do, and the only thing that you must also deal with when it comes to law and policies is about having a bill that is passed and endorsed, that will regulate what you do, to tell you how to do it, and follow laid down principles that is agreeable to everybody.
So let’s not be sentimental about it. It’s like putting a law guiding how a driver drives. The vehicle is yours, but yet, government t have to regulate how you drive so that you don’t kill yourself or kill others”.
Responding to questions whether the social media can take over from the traditional media, he expressed optimism that though the section is thriving, it does not have the capacity to overtake the already established traditional media: “If the traditional media allows it, they will take over. Social media is equal to citizen journalism. The reason why the social media cannot take over is because of believability. The processes through which the traditional media comes out- the crucibles of having editors, news editors, and because of that believability, the very high profile person in the society will usually continue to patronize the traditional media. Advertising. The number of persons and the skills required to engage in the traditional media counts. In the social media, you don’t need to go to any school”.
“You can pick up your phone and write what you want to write. It is going to continue to compete, but it will never take over, because there are areas they can’t go into. They are not coordinated, and they don’t go out intentionally to go and look for reports. Like you are he now, when you finish, you begin to compare it with so many other things. You go back and bring it together, for the purposes of analysis. But the social media man is just one way he does his own, and does not need any balancing. The moment he goes into balancing, he moves away from social media to online journalism. They are two different things. After all, the traditional media houses are all online. You read ThisDay online, you read The Authority online. So you distinguish those who are operating online and those who are just snapping you and posting on the social media. It’s different from the new media”.