The Nigerian government is ordering Google to block the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its affiliated groups from communicating via YouTube and other Google platforms. 

Side Note: IPOB is a secessionist group that believes in the emancipation of the people of eastern Nigeria. Over the last couple of years, members of the group have been involved in violent incidents with security officials, and this has led to the death of civilians. 

After labelling them as a “terrorist organisation,” the government says its interest in curtailing IPOB’s online activity stems from a need to protect internet users from their harmful effects on social media, especially as the 2023 presidential election approaches.

Google isn’t the first company the Nigerian government is warning about IPOB. Earlier in May, the Nigerian government also asked Facebook to curtail the activities of IPOB on its platform. 

What’s Google saying?

Google is doing what big companies do to big governments: diplomacy. 

The technology behemoth did not communicate whether or not it would block the groups called out by Mohammed. Rather, it expressed an understanding of the government’s concerns, asserting that Google platforms are not to be used for harmful objectives. It, however, added that the company already has measures that address the government’s concerns.

Big picture: In the past few years, the Nigerian government has been on an ambitious mission to control technology-enabled social conversations in the country. From the social media bill to the infamous Twitter ban and the NITDA draft, the Nigerian government has shown a lot of interest in regulating social media. This begs the question: is there more to their intent?