By Mustapha Salisu
The two-day Kano Social Influencers Summit (KANSIS) 2023, organized by the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), concluded with participants calling for responsible use of social media.
In a communique jointly signed by Haruna Adamu Hadejia from CITAD, Salisu M. Indabawa from Centre for Youth Entrepreneurship and Development Initiative (CEYEDI) and Wumi Simon of Wunancy Pepper Dem, participants identified several positive and negative aspects of social media.
On the positive side, they noted that social media has promoted whistleblowing, democratized access to information, and provided job opportunities. However, they also noted challenges such as the spread of dangerous speech, hate speech, and rumors.
To address these issues, participants recommended measures like supporting the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, protecting social media users from abuse, introducing dedicated social media platforms for reporting, and promoting responsible social media use through education and guidance.
The summit emphasized the importance of harnessing the potential of social media while mitigating its negative impacts, ultimately striving for a more responsible and innovative digital future.
Some of the specific recommendations made by participants include:
“*Government should support the passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.
* There should be a law that will protect the users of social media from abuse, especially from the security agencies.
* Government at all levels should introduce dedicated social media platforms hotlines for reporting issues. These platforms can streamline the reporting process and ensure complaints are addressed.
* Introduce “blockchain” to promote transparency and temper-proof of records, thereby enhancing the integrity of the supply chain and financial transactions, reducing corruption risks.
* Users of social media should contact professionals in relative fields that they have no prior expertise in for guidance before posting or commenting on issues. This will help in validating any issues in the media.
* The National 2016 policy on whistle blowing should be updated and legislated by the National Assembly as an act.
* Sustained sensitization on both the social media and the whistleblowing to users. This will educate them on how to use it responsibly.
* Political parties should be encouraged to engage constituents through various social media platforms for messaging and documentation, which will serve as evidence for follow-ups after elections.
* Set up whistleblowing apps and websites can ensure anonymity and safety for reporters.”
The KANSIS 2023 summit was a timely and important event, given the growing role of social media in our lives. The recommendations made by participants are valuable and should be considered by policymakers and stakeholders alike.