by Doyin Jaiyesimi
Last week, the media was filled with reports that the Senate president, David Mark, had called for a clampdown on the use of social media because it was being used as an avenue to send out wrong messages about Nigeria and its leaders. The statement was reportedly made while he was delivering a keynote address at the Senate press corps retreat in Abia State. Senator David Mark has now released a statement claiming that he was misquoted.
In the statement released by David Mark’s special adviser on Media, Kola Ologbongiyan, a brief of what the Senate president really said at the retreat was provided.
“Recently, the president of the Senate, Senator David Mark, delivered a keynote address at the Senate press corps Retreat in Umuahia, Abia Sate. The theme of the Retreat was: The Role of the Media in Promoting Good Governance. In his address, the president of the Senate had asserted that “the emergence of the social media like Facebook, twitter, blackberry messenger, YouTube etc have changed the face of the media practice by making information sharing easier, faster and quicker. But this is not without its demerits.
“Social media has become a threat to the ethics of media practice and good governance because of its accessibility and absolute freedom. Every freedom carries a responsibility. Even in the advanced democracies, where we all agree that good governance is practiced, there is no absolute freedom.”
Senator Mark further expressed the belief that “there must be a measure to check the negative tendencies of the social media in our country” because in social media, a faceless character a can post inaccurate and misleading information which may never be retracted. He suggested that “schools of mass communication and journalism should review their curricular to include the operations of social media”.
The statement also addressed the quote that the Senate President allegedly made.
“From the excerpts of the speech quoted above, it is manifest that the President of the Senate neither called for the censorship of the social media nor alleged that the medium was being used to insult the Nigerian leaders like him. He also did not ask the social media to stop criticizing the Federal Government and write only on its good sides. Rather, he called for measures that would check the negative tendencies inherent in the use of the social media,” the statement reads.
The false quotes have been attributed to critics of the Senate president who “ have continually ignored the text of his address which he read in the public.” The attempt to foist a label of “social media must be censored” on the Senate president was described as mischievous and irresponsible. It was also called “an unjust agenda which will not stick”.