As Nigeria moves towards the next general election in 2015, the election management body, Independent National Electoral Commission, is considering setting basic rules that will guide the use of social media by political parties and politicians.
Kuna Mohammed, Technical Adviser to the Chairman of the commission, Attahiru Jega, hinted of the plans on Monday in a New Media and Governance conference organised by EIENigeria in Abuja.
In his view, the basic guideline will minimize the use of social media tools by political parties and campaigning politicians to spread lies and rumours.
“I can see a situation, as we move towards 2015, where the presence of political parties and candidates in social media will be greater than what we have seen in 2011,” Mr Kuna said.
“This therefore means that there is a need to begin to talk about setting basic rules of etiquette in the use of social media, like in many companies.”
Listen to Mr Kuna
In the build up to the 2011 elections, many politicians, including the sitting president, heavily utilized the social media to boost their chances at the polls.
Nigeria has a population of about 160 million. With about 44 million internet users and 4.2 million active Facebook users, its social media community is significant in politics.
Even though the social media tools aided the successes of the 2011 election, INEC believes the same tools were used by politicians and political parties to spread false information.
“The media tools are as amenable to being vehicles for information as they are for misinformation,” Jega, who sat only meters away listening to his adviser said, earlier that day.
“Practically speaking, we in INEC have received alarms many times in our Situation Room during elections that turned out to be red herrings.”