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New media technologies like social media platforms have emerged as an important tool in modern societies which people use to share their ideas, videos and photos to the larger online community. These have the potential to expand the work of human rights by empowering the public to freely express their views and opinions and participate in decision making. Nonetheless, these tools in the same vein have the potential of violating the rights of others. The study explored how the social media both promote and violate human rights in Nigeria, using Kaduna North Municipality as a case. An exploratory design with both qualitative and quantitative approach was used to purposively and stratified randomly sampled the views and experiences of one hundred and sixty (160) participants including Victims of Social Media violations, Social Media Users and officials of CHRAJ and NCCE. The study revealed among other things that, social media as a tool has been used to: infringe on the rights of people by way of invading their privacy; circulated falsehood and comments; tarnished peoples reputation and defrauded or blackmailed people. Similarly, it was revealed that social media has helped people to freely express their views and opinions, contributed to increase human rights awareness, exposed injustice and decreased human rights violations. It was recommended that there must be human rights education on integrating the social media in human rights programming. It was further recommended that a national social media policy is enacted to safeguard privacy and security of online users.  The study is expected to deepen awareness of social media users, expand the knowledge and understanding of CHRAJ and NCCE and provide human rights policy formulators, implementers and academia with reliable data on some forms of human rights violations committed on the social media.


1.1       Background to the Study

Human rights have enjoyed tremendous attention and expansion at the global level. To concretize and energise human rights protection at national level, virtually all national constitutions embody human rights either in their preamble or substantive provisions. In Nigeria, human rights are embodied in two separate chapters, encapsulating both the civil and political rights and the economic, social and cultural rights.

Today, human rights issues have not only become a global concern but remarkable interest aimed at protecting and promoting universal respect for, and observance of, human rights has continually been shown at the international, regional and national levels. Indeed the issue of human rights, in the recent past, has penetrated the international dialogue, become an active ingredient in interstate relations and has burst the sacred bounds of national sovereignty.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was unanimously adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations through the General Assembly Resolution 217A(111) on the 10th of December, 1948. Since its declaration, it has become fashionable for most countries of the world (Nigeria inclusive) to entrench the catalogue of rights in their national constitutions. Regrettably, in Nigeria and indeed in Africa, people are usually subjected to physical and mental torture. Adenrele and Olugbenga (2014) states that the case of accidental discharge, domestic violence, detention without trial, kidnappings, and police brutality are common occurrences. In short, the Nigerian experience has shown the level at which peoples’ integrity and dignity are not respected and protected in the society.

This is because contrary to democratic ethos, the state is still largely authoritarian in leadership and security operations (Akhaine and Chizea, 2011). Other forms of human rights abuses in Nigeria include motorists harassment and extortion by security personnel, political assassinations, undemocratic imposition of candidates in leadership and intimidation of political opponents (Akhaine and Chizea, 2011); rape, child abuse, education denial and domestic violence (Adesupo, 2013).

The internet has transformed the various ways people exercise their human rights most especially freedom of speech and expression which was previously limited to the confines of television, radio and print media etc. Today we have the social media which permits individuals or groups to sit in the comfort of their bedrooms or offices and with a click on the mouse or a tap on a screen express themselves freely to millions of other users who are not restricted by the physically defined borders and boundaries of countries or regions.

There is no doubt that the internet and social media has changed the Nigerian society today. The internet has the ability to make or destroy our society. This paper therefore seeks to examine the roles that the social media plays in combating all forms of human rights abuses in the Nigeria.

 1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                  

Worldwide changes is shifting the ways in which information is disseminated. Globally, people are now using the new media such as websites, wikis, blogs and social media for information dissemination as well as for human rights advocacy. In recent times, Nigeria’s media landscape is inundated with the desire of social media users utilising social networking sites for various activities which may be described as ‘twopronged’ thus for good and bad. Nigeriaians are surprised at the increasing spate of insensitivity and rights violations in the country, with social media providing the negative drive. There are images and graphic videos of nudity of women, children, and of gruesome murders with victims’ nudity in full glare. In the study area for instance, the social media according to Ninson (2017) is used by fraudsters to link up with people who want someone to date after which a relationship is initiated and various demands are made to defraud the victim. Others also steal the identity of other people to establish friendship with victims. Pictures of naked posts are sent out to suspected victims to seduce them for dating and for money demand. These have pushed human rights principles and social tenets to the backburners, putting respect for human rights to its lowest ebb.

In spite of the several outreach programmes over the years aimed at sensitising internet users on their rights and privileges in the constitution and the dangers associated with the wrongful use of the internet with the advent of the social media, the problem of human rights abuse online persist. This has therefore encouraged the researcher to study how social media as a tool does contribute to human rights promotions in the study area.

There is abundant research to show the importance of ICT in the promotion of human rights. Academically, it is unfortunate that few empirical studies have been carried out to explore the applicability of the social media for human rights promotion. Those studies conducted by Emmanuel, Sanga, & Magalla (2014); Sarikakis & Rodriquez-Amat (2012) and Victoria Chioma Nwankwo in her 2011 studies on ‘The role of the media in promoting human rights: An analysis of the BBC documentay, ‘Chocolate: the bitter truth’ were conducted outside Nigeria which has cultural differences. Currently in Nigeria, there is no study cited that has focused on social media and the promotion of human rights, hence the need for the conduction of this study.

The researcher believes that this study will add a new dimension to existing literature and also fill the research gap in available studies. The study aims to contribute to the understanding of social media by way of exploring how it is used for human rights agenda in Nigeria and how it can effectively be harnessed to promote human rights.

Hence this study seeks to explore the use of the social media for human rights promotion.

1.3        Purpose of the Study

The influence of new media technologies such as social media is phenomenal since modern societies have embraced it as the new trend of information dissemination. This can also have an influence on human rights programmes and activities. As a result of the potentials and challenges the social media poses to human rights agenda, the main purpose of the study is to explore the use of social media in fighting human rights abuse in nigeria.

 1.4       Objectives of the Study

Generally, the study sought to explore the use of social media for human rights promotion in Nigeria.

Specifically, the study seeks to:

  1. Identify human rights violations committed with the use of the social media in the Kaduna North Municipality.
  2. Explore the ways of using the social media for human rights promotion in the Kaduna North Municipality.
  3. Examine the challenges regarding the use of the social media as an ICT tool in promoting human rights and the measures to be taken to alleviate the challenges in the Kaduna North Municipality.
  4. Assess the responses of human rights institutions regarding the use of social media to violate human rights in the Kaduna North Municipality.

 1.5       Research Questions

To achieve the research objectives, the following research questions were formulated to serve as guidelines for the study:

  1. How has social media contributed to human rights violations in the Kaduna North Municipality?
  2. What are the ways of using the social media for human rights promotion in the Kaduna North Municipality?
  3. What are the challenges regarding the use of the social media as an ICT tool to promote human rights and the measures that should be taken to alleviate the challenges in the Kaduna North Municipality?
  4. How does human rights institutions in Kaduna North Municipality respond to the use of social media for human rights violations?

1.6       Significance of the Study

The widespread use of the social media is influencing the work of human rights in various ways. Understanding the way people behave on social media platforms is a potentially valuable source of information for human rights educators and researchers.             As a result of this, the study is significant as it is expected to deepen awareness of the public on the activities of social media and its influence on human rights. It represents an effort in understanding social media for human rights promotion and violation.

The study also provides viable strategy for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), by expanding their knowledge and understanding of social media while engaging in human rights education.   It again provides human rights policy formulators and implementers with reliable data on some forms of human rights violations that the residents of the study area experience with the use of the social media. This study again offers insight for human rights educators who would need to know how to utilise social media as an effective and efficient way to enhance the promotion of human rights.

Social networking sites would also get some insights into user’s perception towards their sites and the human rights violations that are perpetuated on these sites.

Finally, findings could form the basis for future research on various aspects of ICT and human rights which will serve as reference point for other student researchers and policy makers who are interested in human rights issues.

1.7       Delimitation of the Study

The issues of social media and the promotion and violation of human rights in its entirety are too broad a topic to be handled within the restricted time-frame. In view of this, the scope of the study as specified by its objectives is limited to victims of social media violations, social media users and officials of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in the Kaduna North Municipality of the central region of Nigeria. This delimitation was done to manage the data collection considering the time and the resources to the researcher.

 1.8       Definition of Terms

The following definitions are provided to ensure a common understanding of the primary terms used in this study:                                                 Human rights: All rights possessed by all persons regardless of one’s race, ethnic origin, gender, religion or any other status as a result of being a human.

Social media: Internet‐based network sites that turn communication into an interactive information flow in which people engage with each other.

Human rights promotion: Providing people with education and training through awareness creation that aims at respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms so as to prevent human rights violations.

Human rights violation: An infringement on the fundamental freedoms of a person that disrespect or act against his/her rights.

New Media Technologies: They are new form of internet related information communication technologies such as websites, Apps, blogs, wikis, online social networking, virtual worlds and social media used for communication.

Internet Facility Users: They are those who have access to internet facility at home, internet cafe, on mobile phone or other mobile device.

1.9       Organization of Study

The study is made up of five main chapters. Chapter one deals with the introductory aspect of the study and it comprises the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, delimitations and organization of the study.  Chapter two is devoted to the framework on which the study is conceptualized. Key concepts employed in the study are defined in this chapter. The chapter also presents a review of the literature from which the findings were analyzed. Chapter Three describes the methodology for data collection. This includes the research design (and approach), the study area, population, the sample size and sampling technique, research instruments, data collection procedure, validity and reliability, method of data analysis, sources of data and ethical issues. Chapter Four looks at the presentation and explanation of the outcome of the research. This includes illustrations with tables and figures. Lastly, chapter five deals with the summary of the study, main findings, contribution of the study to knowledge, conclusions and recommendations, limitations of the study and suggestions for further research.

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