Twitter declared access to its platform a 'human right' on Saturday, prompting conservatives to accuse the firm of hypocrisy after it banned former President Donald Trump and others for violating its terms of service.
The social media giant's statement came as a response to Nigeria's decision to ban Twitter over the deletion of a tweet from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that was seen as threatening separatist movements.
'We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society,' the company said in a statement.
'We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn.'
We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 5, 2021
We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn
President Buhari's tweet reportedly referenced the bloody civil war in Nigeria's Biafra region in the late 1960s, during which a million people were killed, in what some perceived as a veiled threat to modern day separatists.
'Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat' the secessionists 'in the language they understand,' reads the tweet from Buhari - who was a military officer in the civil war.
Twitter removed the tweet and said it violated policies against 'abusive behavior.' The company's rules prohibit promoting or threatening violence.
Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Information and Culture then tweeted on Friday that the social media account would be banned across the country with violators reportedly facing prosecution.
'The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria,' the ministry tweeted.
After Twitter's response on Saturday, critics of the platform took to the platform in a bid to compare Nigeria's nationwide suppression with the ban Trump and some conservatives have faced for violating the company's policies in the United States.
Liz Wheeler, a conservative author, tweeted: 'Access to the free & #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society... unless you're Donald Trump.
'Or reporting on Hunter Biden's laptop. Or discussing the biology of gender. Or the murderous dictator of Iran. Or a Chinese Communist Party peon lying about COVID.'
Lavern Spicer, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for election to the U.S. House in 2020, responded that she was 'deeply concerned by the suspending of President Donald Trump on Twitter.'
'Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society, even if you disagree with their politics,' she wrote.
The actor James Woods wrote: 'If irony were a food, Twitter could cure hunger overnight…'
New York Post journalist Jon Levine also took to condemning Twitter, writing: 'Twitter commits itself to “free and open internet” just months after banning ... THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.'
Other Twitter users, however, posted that Twitter banning Trump for violating its terms of service and Nigeria banning the entirety of Twitter for all of its citizens are not comparable.
'Nobody suspended Trump from the WHOLE internet for Pete's sake. He was suspended for breaking rules he agreed to adhere to,' tweeted @marajode.
Trump was permanently banned the day after the January 6 US Capitol riot after Twitter accused him of using his account - which had close to 90 million followers - of inciting violence.
The United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria also addressed the Twitter ban in a statement, condemning Nigeria for the ban.
'Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression. The Government’s recent Twitter ban undermines Nigerians’ ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses,' the mission tweeted.
'Banning social media and curbing every citizen’s ability to seek, receive, and impart information undermines fundamental freedoms.'
The statement continued: 'As President Biden has stated, our need for individual expression, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater. The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication, alongside concerted efforts toward unity, peace, and prosperity.'
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.