Posts by social media influencers may now have greater impact than world leaders’ speech – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the negative impacts of social media across the world have become so bad that posts by social media influencers on Twitter and Instagram now make greater impacts on society than speeches by the world’s most powerful leaders.

Buhari stated this while addressing world leaders at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, US.

He said social media have become a corrosive digital version of the mob, bristling with intolerance, division, unsavoury hate speech, fake news and misinformation, asking world leaders for a joint effort to confront the impacts of social media across the globe.

President Buhari had made several efforts to regulate social media in Nigeria including placing a ban on Twitter in 2021 after his tweet was deleted for violating the microblogging app’s rules.

The president said, “There was a time when the most important event at this Assembly was the speech by the world’s most powerful leaders. Now a Tweet or Instagram post by an influencer on social or environmental issues may have greater impact.

“Technology offers us nearly limitless opportunities and sometimes runs ahead of the imagination of regulators and legislators. At its best, social media helps strengthen the foundations of our society and our common values.

“At its worst, it is a corrosive digital version of the mob, bristling with intolerance and division.

“When I began my tenure as President in 2015, distinctions were drawn between the experience of poorer countries and those apparently better able to manage the avalanche of unfiltered information.

“Nigeria has had many unsavoury experiences with hate speech and divisive disinformation. Increasingly, we also see that many countries face the same challenge. Clearly, data also know no borders.

“In confronting these challenges, we must also come together to defend freedom of speech, while upholding other values that we cherish.

“We must continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich communities.

“Efforts to protect communities from the scourge of disinformation and misinformation must also be matched with efforts to reduce inequalities and restore hope to our poorer and most vulnerable of our communities as a means to stem the many socio-economic conflict drivers with which we are faced.

“In spite of our efforts, humanitarian crises will continue to ravage some of our communities. Nigeria, therefore, implores our global partners to do more to complement our endeavours.”