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State Department urges Nigeria to reverse Twitter ban

State Department urges Nigeria to reverse Twitter ban
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The United States on Thursday condemned Nigeria’s move to suspend Twitter in the country after its president had a post removed by the platform.

“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.”

Twitter deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari last week for violating its policy on abusive behavior.

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The post appeared to threaten secessionist groups in the southeast of Nigeria that had attacked government offices, which the platform determined should be taken down.

On Friday, the government announced via Twitter that the platform would be suspended. The next day the country’s attorney general announced that Nigerians dodging that ban would be prosecuted. 

The suspension has been criticized by many Nigerian users who have used the platform to criticize the government. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE, meanwhile, has cheered Nigeria's ban on Twitter amid his own criticism of the company after it permanently suspended him following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Twitter was used to great effect to boost the EndSARS campaign in Nigeria, which called for an abusive police unit to be dissolved. 

The showdown between Twitter and the Nigerian government comes amid a broader trend of government intervention in social media from places such as China and Iran.