Poland proposed social media free speech law to protect local users; should Africa follow suit?

The government of Poland has proposed a new bill to help regulate activities of tech giants running various social media platforms following recent banning of accounts and deletion of posts that goes against their community policies. 

The government through this new bill called the “freedom of speech protection” is seeking to fine these platforms an amount up to 50 million zloty (£9.8m, $13.4m) for refusal to restore deleted posts or accounts. 

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro who announced the bill on Friday added that, the law will also establish a “freedom of speech council” with a mandate to review accounts and posts and then order platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to either restore deleted content, or unblock a user’s account. 

The law will also make provisions for citizens of Poland to make direct complains to the platforms which are expected to respond within a period of 24hours or face a fine. In effect, these platforms cannot block anyone in Poland unless the council establishes that, the offense violates polish laws.  

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Following the recent surge in the blocking of social media accounts and African pages created to publish news items and historical content including factual colonial history which these platforms mostly flag with claims of policy violation, should the various African countries or the regional bodies such as the African Union consider such a bill to regulate the activities of these platforms on the continent? 

Africa is a big market for these platforms that make billions of dollars from the huge numbers of users from the continent; it is only right to institute a law to protect the rights and freedoms of these users upon thorough review of their offense.

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