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Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Think before you tweet


Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Think before you tweet

by Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

The complex state of the Nigeria takes a new dimension on a daily basis, spurring countless discussions and debates. One cannot but be baffled at the way supposed intellectuals reason and debate. We need to understand that it is not necessary to participate in a debate unless you believe you have tangible and intelligible addition to a conversation. It is very easy to take matters personally and out of context; I have been guilty of this many times and even recently.

On this basis, I will like to pass a few comments on recent developments on social networking site Twitter especially as it relates to Nigeria.

I am a Twitter rookie; in fact I only clocked a thousand tweets recently and have less than 200 followers but I have noticed certain things that I sincerely believe should be addressed.  I doubt if Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey knows the extent to which his idea is being used for nation building and to some extent; nation destruction.

In describing the origin of Twitter, Dorsey had this to say “…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

Twitter was designed to be the Short Message Service (SMS) of the Internet and it has indeed been as it has seen a mass porting of users of Facebook. However, Jack Dorsey and his associates created a platform which exceeds just social chatter and blabbing to one that engenders national discourse, surveys and even Internet friendships brought to the physical realm. As with every Internet platform, Twitter has been abused in certain ways. It is only proper that we look at a few of them:

1. Every person has the right to express themselves in whatever form they like. It is a fundamental Human Right enshrined in section 39. (1) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN 1999 as amended) thus:  ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference’.

This right is recognised by almost all the nations of the Earth with slander and libel as major exceptions to that right. I believe it also applies to Twitter. I have the right to say what I want, when I want and how I want. However, it must be said that the rules of public morality discourages certain words or statements from being uttered in the public; it will do us good to keep to this rule and show some respect for followers. This as well is essential because  Twitter is an Internet platform accessible to all, whatever tweets  violates the rules of public morality goes viral in few minutes.

2. Based on the above, note that you cannot ask me not to tweet whatever I want to inasmuch I am not committing libel, slander or misrepresenting facts. If you have issues with that, Twitter has an unfollow button, you may kindly use when necessary. There’s absolutely no need to engage in a conversation on Twitter if the only thing you do is throw vituperations. If I cannot tolerate arguments or dissenting opinion, then I don’t need to resort to insulting the other person.

This is gradually becoming the trend on Twitter: too many people are committing the fallacy of Argumentum ad hominem (fallacy against the person). Rather than engage you on the issue at stake, they prefer to attack your personality and this always ends in what has come to be known as a ‘tweet fight’. Recent examples include Chief Femi Fani Kayode v. Dr (Mrs) Oby Ezekwesili, Reno Omokri v. Dr Ezekwesili, @oddy4real, @one9jaboi et al. v. @omojuwa, @nedunaija v. Chief Femi Fani Kayode etc. We need to put an end to this trend; it is getting us nowhere.

3. You should not claim that your account has been hacked whenever your tweet generates controversy. Be mature and sincere enough to apologise if absolutely necessary when you discover that you were in the wrong. I see no reason why someone like Chief Femi Fani Kayode should tell his followers that his account was hacked whenever he posts a much criticised tweet. Although verified accounts can as well be hacked but it is more secured and followers are sure that the accounts are opened by the personalities themselves or by their authorised proxies.

4. Finally, I believe the rule ‘think before you talk’ should apply to Twitter and should be taken as ‘think before you tweet’ or why tweet a thing and then delete it later. Again Chief Fani-Kayode has been guilty of this severally. The Chief will do well to take this seriously so he will not continually stay in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

 I might have being guilty of some of the above though. I am not a Twit-saint. Enough said.

Follow this writer on twitter: @tosinfat

Fatoyinbo believes politics can be played with integrity, justice and probity. A firm believer in the rule of law, he will be at the Nigerian Law School in October. He loves writing and has a published novella 'Chauvinism'. He loves God and although he doesn't shy away from controversies, he still manages to be simple and friendly. And faithful too... afterall he supports Arsenal FC.

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