Nigeria is the 66th country in the world to restrict social media

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The study conducted by English privacy protection company Surfshark shows that Nigeria became the 66th country that has restricted social media access over the last six years. The social media site blockage comes after face-off over the president’s tweet in Nigeria. Cutting off social media access is a common practice in African countries, especially during elections, protests, demonstrations, or exams. The researchers revealed that at least 30 countries in Africa have blocked or heavily restricted social media access since 2015.

“Social media has established itself as a key political player of its own. However, as its influence grows, so does the governments’ desire to censor it by introducing new laws, restricting access, or blocking social media altogether,” says Gabrielle Racaityte-Racai, Communications Manager at Surfshark

Social media restrictions have been a rising trend over the past six years, with a total of 66 countries worldwide recording cases after the first time the Egyptian government enforced an internet blackout back in 2011. 

Since then, internet censorship has seen prominent growth worldwide, especially in Asian and African regions, and even more so recently during elections and other political events. In 2021 alone, there were eight political cases of internet disruption across the world in Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, Myanmar, Senegal, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, and Bangladesh.

These governments usually go after communication apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Most internet censorship and social media restriction cases in Africa have to do with riots, protests, elections, and other events of political nature.

Over six years, at least 16 countries in Africa alone have restricted access to social media due to elections and 7 due to protests. The new report was collected through open-source information from Freedom House, Netblocks, and reputable news reports from 2015 to the present day. Social media was conceptualized as social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc.) and communication apps, including VoIP apps (i.e., Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber). Both local and national social media blockings have been taken into account in the study. The final social media censorship report with regional deep-dives can be found here.

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