State Department condemns Nigeria's Twitter ban, saying policy "has no place in a democracy"

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The U.S. Department of State condemned Nigeria's Twitter ban and its threat to arrest and prosecute Nigerians found using the app in a statement Thursday, saying the policy "has no place in a democracy."

Why it matters: The department requested that Nigeria's government respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression and reverse the ban on the social media platform, which has been extremely popular in Africa's most populous nation.

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Context: The country banned the platform after Twitter temporarily froze Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's account for violating its "abusive behavior" policy.

  • Nigeria's attorney general and minister of justice also directed the country's communications regulator and federal prosecutors over the weekend to start charging and arresting people who circumvent the ban through virtual private networks.

  • Twitter and other platforms are routinely used by citizens around the world to voice their dissent or concerns to their governments.

What they're saying: "Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy," Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said.

  • "Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies," he added.

  • "We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension."

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