Nairaland, a popular Nigerian online forum and the country’s seventh-most-visited website, is in blackout mode after Cloudflare, an American content delivery company, yanked its server offline on Monday. Seun Osewa, Nairaland’s enigmatic founder, confirmed the shutdown on Monday, sharing that Cloudflare implemented a takedown after an abuse report filed two weeks ago. The nature of the abuse remains unclear. 

Osewa first tweeted on Monday evening that Nairaland’s website was down due to “an unscheduled maintenance operation” by Cloudflare. By Tuesday afternoon, Osewa tweeted that the Nairaland forum was taken down for a different reason. “Nairaland’s server was taken down because I overlooked an abuse report that was originally sent on the 14th. After the takedown, I removed the offensive content,” his tweet read.  

“The technical support team has informed me that only the abuse team has the power to reinstate our server, that their review could take up to 48 hours, and that nothing can be done to speed up the process. I’ve been informed that the only thing I can do is wait. It’s humbling,” 

Osewa did not respond to multiple requests for comments from TechCabal.

“Cloudflare offers security and reliability services to millions of websites, helping prevent online abuse and make the Internet more secure,” Cloudflare shared on its website. The company prohibits hate speech, malware, and copyright infringement. 

Launched in 2005, Nairaland is Nigeria’s most popular online forum. With around 3 million registered users, it allows users to create content around a wide range of topics and has helped build communities around news, politics, entertainment, and technology. Yet, Nairaland has often been criticised for lax content moderation and a staid design, which has not changed since its launch. 

“Good efforts are put into the moderation of the platform,” said Suraj Oyewale, a one-time Naira land power user. “It is impossible to have a perfect public form as long as the content is user generated.”

Nairaland’s takedown will draw relevant questions about the rashness of Cloudflare’s decision. “Will Cloudflare take down Reddit, the popular American online forum, for instance, for a similar incident,” one media expert who spoke to TechCabal asked. Osewa’s tweets show that the timeline for resolving the incident remains unclear.

Nairaland’s disappearance leaves a sizeable void in the Nigerian online space and while there are questions around the future of the platform, it’s clear that it will need to evolve and make some changes when it returns. 

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