This study was carried out to examine the roles of social media on national security from Nigerian perspective. The result of the study showed that the common forms of social media that Nigerians are exposed to are Facebook, Whatsapp, 2go and Twitter. From the study, it was observed that the social media is a principal player in the area of national security in Nigeria. It can also be as an effective surveillance of the environment, conveying information on security issues in Nigeria, creating a highly interactive platform for discussing security challenges and unveiling areas of individuals and entities that may likely constitute a breach to national security. The descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. Using the purposive and simple random sampling, one hundred occupations relating to media and security, around Nigeria were selected for the study. Questionnaire, as primary instrument for data collection were randomly distributed among the respondents. The data obtained were analyzed descriptively and presented in percentage frequency distribution tables. Conversely, the findings of this study showed that social media can have negative impact on national security. Since social media can be used to disseminate false information about the security issues in Nigeria and can be used to propagate internal conflicts and violence. It can also be used as an interactive forum against national security. Finally, this study suggested ways of improving social media for effective management of national security in Nigeria to include that government should always checkmate the activities in all the social networking sites in Nigeria. Intelligence agencies and all the armed forces should endeavor to check the social media regularly for any updates that may affect national security and there should be a level of privacy and restrictions of activities in social media interactions in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
National security borders on incidence that endangers human existence or welfare (Ali, 2013). Nigeria’s national security means the protection of the lives, rights, dignity and property of its citizens (Ibagere, 2010). It is also the protection of its resources, cultural integrity, territory, sovereignty and lawful institutions of the country (Wali, 2012). National security encompasses freedom from danger or threats to a nation’s stability to protect itself, promote its cherished values and legitimate interest, and enhance the well-being of its people (Nwanegbo and Odigbo, 2013). The aim of national security is to secure the just and equitable living conditions for all the citizens of the country and of peace for human life.
Suffice to say, communication is central to human life as it sustains and maintains human relationship and social interaction. It is the transfer of information from one person, context or group to another (Giddens et al., 2005). According to Robins (2005), communication is a definite process involving the source or sender encoding of cues or prompts, message or purpose through a channel or medium of transmission to the decoder or the receiver so as to provide a feedback. In essence, communicators often consider which appropriate channel (s) or medium to use in order to reach a given target audience and one of such channels is the internet (Ebner et al., 2010).
Social media, as a means of communication are computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks (Adedeji, 2011). It is the collections of internet websites, services and practices that support collaboration, community building, participation, and sharing (Ndaku, 2013). Social media can also be defined as a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Social media therefore depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content (Bello, 2012).
A major category of the social media activity is social networking. In the recent times, there has been increasing integration of social media networking tools such as blogs, microblogs, and video-sharing sites into the society (Robbins, 2005). Social networking sites have also enhanced the functioning of the older media of communication (Cranston and Davies, 2009). Social networking websites, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, have generally become an integral part of the society (Cotton, 2008). Ndaku (2013), posits that social networking which include blogs (political Blog), networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), video sharing (YouTube), audio sharing (Podcast), mobile sites (2go etc.), image or picture sharing (flicker), etc. have the capacity of boosting participation of the general public into the nation’s wellbeing because of their open, conversational nature, connectedness and textual and audio-visual characteristic appeals.
In Nigeria, there has been a prevalent rate of insecurity and this is made obvious by the alarming trend of anti-social acts prevalent in the nation (Wali, 2012). Acts of terrorism by the Boko Haram Islamic sect, incidents of kidnapping in the southeast and South-South parts of the country, including agitations by militants in the Niger Delta have become “brands” of crime that have given a negative identity to Nigeria (Ali, 2013). This is in addition to other conventional crimes such as theft, arson, violent ethno-religious conflicts to mention but few, which the law enforcement agents battle daily (Ofuafor, 2008). These acts particularly those that involve threat to life have contributed in creating an alarming state of insecurity in some parts of the country.
The social media is a principal player in the arena of national security (Nwanegbo and Odigbo, 2013). The social media by their nature have the capabilities of educating, informing, entertaining and inflaming the audience (Adedeji, 2011). Above all, they possess a contagious and outreaching influence which the conventional media lack and this potential is most likely what Osahenye (2012) refers to as unstoppable power of the social media. Social media is a double edged sword in that it can be used either in a beneficial or detrimental ways. It is on this thrust that this study was carried out to examine the impact of social media on national security from the standpoint of Nigeria perspective.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Ndaku (2013) rightfully posited that social media function as a watchdog capable of blowing the whistle to call attention to serious national issues. This implies a clear recognition of the fact that the media plays an important role on issues of national security. The involvement of settlements and gratitude is usually the center for media publishers to neglect information sensitivity and pursue monetary satisfaction. This problem can be cited as Profit Maximization Vs information protection.
The intentional publishing of information on social media platform without the consent of security agencies is a major problem that endangers the national security of Nigeria, Hence arises the question, Do they lias with security agencies before publishing?
The growing challenge of security in Nigeria is of concern to all. Every effort must be employed to combat this challenge. The issue of national security is a fundamental issue in national and international relations. It is in adherence to this fact that media publication outfits are experts at intelligence gathering processes. Brings the question, How could they publish without security concerns when they knowingly lack the intelligence requirements?
The power of the media to decide what the people should read, see or hear has never been in doubt. What has been in the center of controversy is the capacity of those in whose hands reside such enormous powers to using how do they process information before publication?
Furthermore, Ali (2013) observed that the greatest challenge to the social media in Nigeria today is how to make itself relevant to the Nigerian society particularly where democracy is on trial, and national institutions are taking shape. In this light, this study will proffer ways of improving social media for effective management of national security in Nigeria. Relating to the Nigerian perspective of how the operations of the social media affect national security has been on the increase whereby the information sensitive to national protection is let loose, criticized or black-mailed before proper dissemination.
1.3 Research Objectives
The aim of this study is to examine the impact of social media on national security from the standpoint of Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives of this study are:
1. To identify the various types of social media that Nigerians are exposed to.
2. To examine the positive impacts of social media on national security.
3. To examine how social media has impacted on national security negatively
4. To proffer ways of improving social media for effective management of national security in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
This study will answer the following research questions:
1. What are the various types of social media that Nigerians are exposed to?
2. What are the positive impacts of social media on national security?
3. To what extent has social media impacted on national media negatively?
4. What are the ways of improving social media for effective management of national security in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The social media is a principal player in the arena of national security; hence, this study shall provide a conceptual framework that will address the roles of social media on national security from the standpoint of Nigeria. This research will therefore enlighten the Government of Nigeria and other concerned stakeholders on how social media can affect national security, thus providing ways of managing the rising insecurities in Nigeria. This research will serve as a useful guide to policy makers on how best to tackle security challenges in Nigeria. More so, this study will also serve as a good source of information by Nigerian policy makers, students of security studies, public administration and sociology as it would also identify how influence of social media on national security. This study will also serve as a starting point for further research by other scholars who might be interested in this area of study. In addition to that, this study will also add to the body of existing literatures on the impact of social media on national security. It will enable us to study the negative impact of media publication which is been affected by profit maximization.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study will be centered on the impact of social media in national security from the perspective of Nigeria. The choice of social media is because of the increasing trend of its usage in the daily activities of Nigerians. As a matter of fact, this study will only consider social media such as Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcast, 2go, flicker, Instagram etc and will not look at the impact of other mass media on national security.