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Shocking: Lagos Lawmaker, Desmond Elliot, Vs Social Media influencer

Desmond Elliot, a lawmaker representing Surulere Constituency in the Lagos State House of Assembly, ran the vicious, unforgiving gauntlet of the social media last Thursday when he addressed plenary on some of his reservations about the social media. Shortly after, another honourable, Mojisola Alli-Macauley, also had to run the same gauntlet after venting her displeasure with youths who abused substance, and others who misused the social media.
While Mrs Alli-Macauley did make hasty generalisations and only partially true observations, Mr Elliot, whose submission during the sitting was closer to the truth, was more barbarously handled by the social media mob. Video clarifications from the distraught legislator would not induce his disparagers to mollify their opinion that he was a sellout, that he had just about as much intelligence as something unspeakable, and that he was a generally base fellow. This unsavoury torrent against the once-loved actor is another one in a worrying trend of abuse and hate speech on the social media rendering the youths guilty of exactly what Mr Elliot was condemning and what they have themselves berated. In fact, without knowing it, they have become their worst fear and their own foe; after all, they had been incensed when the police responded to their EndSARS protests with more brutality.

Soon after Mr Elliot’s speech went viral, his private life was attacked. One Instagram influencer, who has since deleted the post, unearthed what appeared to be a secret of the lawmaker. The influencer alleged that Mr Elliot had indulged in extramarital affairs, which had produced a child. Worse still the influencer went on to blackmail his suspected partner, promising to expose all about her supposed trysts with the legislator to the media if she did not call the pariah lawmaker to order. Despite her pleas, the Instagram account still went ahead to expose her. It is unclear just how true the intrusion into his private life is; if it is, then it constitutes blackmail and bullying; if it is not, then it constitutes defamation.
As witnessed during the EndSARS protests, the social media is a powerful weapon that can both maim and heal. As Mr Elliot noted, the social media is useful and a welcome development. Unfortunately, the serial display of irresponsibility by youths in their usage of the said media, especially when they suspect that they can act with anonymity, is becoming alarming. The rise of fake news, abuse, bullying and blackmail appear to make a case for the regulation of social media usage. Unfortunately the government has not indicated that it can be trusted to make the right regulations. 

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