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FG To Lift Suspension On Twitter Once It Registers With NBC and CAC

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The Nigerian government will lift the suspension of Twitter, the microblogging platform once the digital social media app registers with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

According to an affidavit deposed to by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation in response to a suit filed by a human rights lawyer, the government said Twitter would not have been suspended if it complied with Nigeria’s laws.

The affidavit deposed by Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the Federal Government and the AGF, it was stated that the suspension of Twitter was not an abuse of human rights because Nigerians were still using Twitter despite the suspension.

The government told the court that the Twitter suspension would be lifted once the platform registers with the NBC and the Corporate Affairs Commission.

The government had on June 4, 2021, suspended Twitter barely two days after the social media platform censored a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Subsequently, the AGF, Abubakar Malami threatened to prosecute Nigerians still using the platform while NBC ordered all radio and television stations to stop using Twitter or picking content from the platform.

Human Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, subsequently sued the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Malami, and the Federal Government for suspending the social media platform.

In the fundamental human rights suit marked FHC/L/CS/542/2021, Effiong is seeking nine reliefs, including an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further suspending, deactivating, or banning the operation and accessibility of Twitter or any other social media service in Nigeria because the act was in violation of his rights.

Effiong asked the court to declare as illegal the threat of criminal prosecution by Malami and Lai Mohammed against Nigerians who ‘violate’ the suspension or ban of Twitter, despite the absence of any written law.

But in its response to the originating motion, the government said Nigerians are still using the microblogging platform despite the suspension placed on the app.

“The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria.

“Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter is not aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.

“The respondents (Federal Government and AGF) have never stopped the applicant (Effiong) and the class of persons he seeks to represent from voicing their opinions to access government information and offer criticism where necessary,” the government said in the affidavit.

The government told the court that Nigerians are still free to use other platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Tiktok and others.

The Federal Government also denied knowledge of Twitter censoring Buhari’s tweet on the Biafra civil which offended many Nigerians.

It said Twitter had made its platform accessible to elements like Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra; and had supported the #EndSARS protests of October 2020 which was later hijacked by hoodlums.

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Meta Shuts Down 63,000 Nigerian Accounts in Sextortion Crackdown

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In a significant move to combat online crime, Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has removed 63,000 accounts in Nigeria linked to sextortion scams.

This sweeping action is part of Meta’s ongoing effort to address the growing threat of digital extortion on its platforms.

Unmasking the Scammers

The crackdown, which took place at the end of May, targeted accounts engaged in blackmail schemes.

These scammers posed as young women to coerce individuals into sharing intimate photos, which were then used to extort money from the victims.

The removal follows a Bloomberg Businessweek exposé highlighting the rise of such crimes, particularly affecting teenagers in the United States.

The Global Impact

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has identified sextortion as one of the fastest-growing crimes targeting minors.

The schemes often lead to severe consequences, including the tragic suicides of more than two dozen teens.

In one high-profile case, the death of 17-year-old Jordan DeMay in Michigan led to the arrest of suspects traced back to Lagos, Nigeria.

The Role of the Yahoo Boys

Many of the dismantled accounts were linked to the “Yahoo Boys,” a notorious group known for orchestrating various online scams.

These individuals have been using social media to recruit and train new scammers, sharing blackmail scripts and fake account guides.

Meta’s Response

Meta’s spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to user safety, stating, “Financial sextortion is a horrific crime that can have devastating consequences.”

The company is continually improving its defenses and has reported offenders targeting minors to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

To enhance protection, Meta has implemented stricter messaging settings for teen accounts and safety notices regarding sextortion.

They are also employing technology to blur potentially harmful images shared with minors.

Ongoing Efforts

Meta’s actions highlight the complex and evolving nature of online crime. The company has pledged to remain vigilant, adapting its strategies to counter new threats as they emerge.

“This is an adversarial space where criminals evolve to evade our defenses,” Meta noted.

Looking Forward

As digital platforms continue to grapple with issues of privacy and security, Meta’s recent actions demonstrate a proactive stance in safeguarding users.

By dismantling these networks, the company aims to reduce the prevalence of sextortion and foster a safer online environment for all.

The crackdown serves as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance and collaboration between tech companies and law enforcement to protect individuals from the harmful effects of digital exploitation.

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Meta Expands Monetization Options for Nigerian Creators with In-Stream Ads

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Meta has launched in-stream advertisements for creators on its platforms in Nigeria, providing a significant new revenue stream for content creators.

This development allows creators to incorporate advertisements into their new or existing videos, including live content.

Meta’s automated system identifies natural breaks in videos to place ads, or creators can manually choose their ad placements.

In-stream and live ads encompass various formats, including pre-roll ads that play before a video starts, mid-roll ads that break into the video, and image ads that appear below the video.

There are also after-roll ads that play following the video content. Creators must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as having a minimum of 5,000 followers, to utilize in-stream ads.

This feature is a part of Meta’s broader effort to enhance monetization opportunities on its platforms. According to a report by NapoleonCat, Nigeria has over 50 million Facebook users.

With the introduction of in-stream ads, Nigerian content creators can now monetize their content more effectively, having previously been excluded from such monetization unless they operated from eligible countries.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, announced the feature would go live in June during a visit to Nigeria in March.

“Monetization won’t be limited to just Instagram. Nigerian creators eligible to use our monetization products will be able to also monetize on Facebook as well,” Clegg stated.

Meta confirmed this development in a statement on Monday, saying in-stream ads on Facebook and Facebook ads on reels are the two new monetization features for eligible creators in Nigeria and Ghana.

These features will enable creators to earn money by crafting original videos and cultivating a community.

Moon Baz, Global Partnerships Lead for Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey at Meta, said “Every day, we’re inspired by the incredible African creators who use Facebook to tell their stories, connect with others, and bring people together.

“This expansion will empower eligible creators in the vibrant creative industry across Nigeria and Ghana to earn money while setting the bar high for creativity across the world and making Meta’s family of apps the one-stop-shop for all creators.”

In-stream ads can be played before, during, or after on-demand videos, whether pre-recorded content or a recording of a previous live stream.

Types of in-stream ads include pre-roll ads (which play before a video starts), mid-roll ads (which play during videos), image ads (static image ads that display beneath the content), and post-roll ads (ads which appear at the end of videos).

Meta also introduced ads on Facebook Reels, integrating seamlessly into original Reels and enabling creators to get paid based on the performance of their original reels while entertaining fans.

This move by Meta is set to revolutionize content creation in Nigeria, allowing creators to harness the power of their platforms more effectively for financial gain.

The introduction of these monetization features marks a significant step forward in supporting the creative economy in Nigeria and beyond.

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Nigerian Blogger VeryDarkMan Arrested Again by Police

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Martins Vincent Otse, widely known as VeryDarkMan, a popular social media influencer and blogger, was rearrested by the Nigerian police on Sunday.

The arrest, orchestrated under the direction of Commissioner of Police Benneth Igwe, has sparked significant controversy and debate across social media platforms.

According to Otse’s lawyer, Deji Adeyanju, the arrest occurred after Otse exposed an individual allegedly involved in defrauding a Nigerian living abroad.

Adeyanju took to his X account to voice his concerns, stating, “Our client, @thatverydarkman, has just been arrested by the police on the instruction of CP Igwe for exposing someone who allegedly duped a Nigerian abroad. Instead of the police to arrest the person alleged to have duped someone, they arrested VDM on allegation of defamation.”

The influencer’s arrest follows a recent release from police custody. On June 10, 2024, a Federal High Court in Abuja granted Otse bail, which he satisfied, leading to his subsequent release.

This latest arrest marks a continuation of his legal troubles, stemming from his online activities and the content he shares with his followers.

Previously, on May 22, 2024, SaharaReporters revealed that VeryDarkMan had been arraigned on five counts related to cyberstalking.

The police prosecution team requested additional time to respond to the application, a request granted by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court.

During the court proceedings, the police sought to have Otse remanded in prison.

However, his legal team successfully argued for him to remain in police custody, leading to his detainment at the National Cybercrime Centre.

This arrest raises important questions about the balance between freedom of speech and legal boundaries in Nigeria.

Many supporters argue that VeryDarkMan is being unjustly targeted for his efforts to highlight and expose fraudulent activities that affect Nigerians, both at home and abroad.

Critics, however, believe that the manner in which he conducts his exposes can sometimes verge on defamation, warranting legal scrutiny.

The controversy surrounding VeryDarkMan’s arrest highlights broader concerns about the use of legal mechanisms to silence voices of dissent and those who seek to hold others accountable.

As this case continues to unfold, it will be closely watched by both legal experts and the general public, keen to see how it impacts the landscape of social media influence and accountability in Nigeria.

For now, VeryDarkMan remains in police custody, and his legal team is expected to file for another bail application while preparing to defend against the allegations of defamation.

The outcome of this case could set a significant precedent for how digital activism and online speech are treated under Nigerian law.

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