Media Rights Agenda (MRA) celebrated the 2017 edition of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on May 3 by engaging with a predominatly Nigerian online community to discuss freedom of expression online.
Using the Twitter platform and the unique hashtag #WPFDNG17, the tweet session which was actively engaged by followers from around the world had a tweet impression of 2,130,866 reaching a total audience of 949,360 persons.
Engagements in the four-hour tweet session rose and peaked at 11am, dropped a bit at noon and as rose again at 1pm to 2pm.
Statistics retrieved from analysis of engagement around the hashtag revealed that 80% were male while 20% were female. Nigerians engaged the most with the hashtag but with others engaging from the United States, United Kingdom, Ghana, Egypt, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Sri Lanka among others.
The tweet which got the highest number of retweets was a statement attributed to Felix Frankfurt which says “Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of achieving a free society.”
The tweeter handle @RashaQandeelBBC who had 193,630 followers as at May 3, 32017 was the number one top influencer among the top ten handles rated as top influencers who engaged with MRA.
Other top influencers of the tweet session were Confidential.com.ni with the twitter handle @Confidential_ni, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism with the handle @WSoyinkaCentre, The Surreal McCoy with the handle @TSMCartoons and the handle @karudhaaas, among others.
The theme for this year’s edition of the WPFD was “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”.
The social media engagement, essentially on Twitter lasted for close to four hours and explored issues around freedom of expression particularly digital rights and freedoms from the provisions of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 and the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.
The tweets explored how these two legal instruments affect human rights; talking about the human rights guaranteed as well as the offences they create.
In addition to the social media engagement, MRA, along with the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) and the International Press Centre (IPC) the three organisations which make up the Partnership for Media and Democracy in Nigeria (PAMED) also sent out a press statement calling on the federal government to create an enabling environment for media practice in Nigeria.
PAMED, in the statement signed by the Executive Directors of the partner organisations noted that the legal and policy environment for the practice of journalism in Nigeria was not conducive, adding that there is an urgent need to address the issue to ensure that journalists do not become endangered species in Nigeria.
Saying that it is worried at the abysmal state of media freedom in Nigeria, PAMED cited the Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières RSF) report which ranked Nigeria 122 out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
The Partners called on the government to make a public commitment to fully implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity to stem the ugly tide.