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OPINION: Dear Techies, It’s Not Our Taxes, Twitter Just Didn’t Want Kenya

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Twitter for Nigeria, in Ghana…

You have probably heard the news, Twitter officially has an Africa headquarters and it’s based in Ghana. Surprised? Well, a lot of people are and so was I.

However, there’s more than meets the eye. Scrolling through the company’s announcement of the Twitter office in Ghana, you will see a lot of people speculating on reasons why Kenya, Nigeria and even South Africa were skipped as choices for Twitter.

The obvious reason is the ease of doing business. Let’s leave South Africa out and focus on Kenya and Nigeria. It’s clear that these two countries have their own share of troubles, brought about by poor governance and laws that are likely to scare off big corporates like Twitter. Especially the taxes, that’s the major reason that tweeps online are giving as to why Kenya and Nigeria were skipped.

So, Why Not Kenya?

While this is true, Kenya’s tax regime is not friendly at all, this argument overlooks one very important thing, what exactly was Twitter after? Speculation aside and since we are yet to get an official explanation from Twitter (I doubt we ever will), we can use the public information we have access to, to understand Twitter’s move.

So far, the company has announced 12 job openings. From analysts, researchers to curators and a few more. While the company has announced they will be hiring an engineering team, those positions are yet to be made public. Interestingly, all the job openings already announced have one thing in common, they target the West African market, specifically Nigeria.

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Take your time, go through the listings and you will be met with descriptions like; “The ideal candidate for this role should have a deep, non-partisan, understanding of Nigerian news and politics,” or “This role is located in Accra, Ghana and focused on Nigeria.” If there’s no mention of Nigeria, there’s a requirement to know the language, specifically, pidgin, “Fluency and ability to read and write in English and Pidgin English,” another role states.

Clearly, Twitter is targeting Nigeria. Twitter wants Nigeria and rightfully so, with close to 40Mn Twitter users, the platform is one to reckon with in the country – remember the #EndSars campaign that took the world by storm? Even when Jack Dorsey (Twitter’s CEO) came to Africa, he spent some good time in Nigeria. Top this up with the fact that a lot of the useful bots we have on Twitter are actually made in Nigeria – like the quoted RTs bot whose functionality was later merged into the official Twitter app.

So, why didn’t Twitter settle in Nigeria?

Twitter For Nigeria, in Ghana

The truth is, it’s very hard to do business in Nigeria, even tweeps from the country agree with this and are not surprised by it. However, unlike Kenyans, Nigerians are probably right. Twitter skipped Nigeria because it just wasn’t feasible for them to set up there. But as we have seen from the job listings, the company still has a need and yearns to serve Nigeria, so they went for the next best option and that is Ghana.

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The citizens of Ghana and Nigeria have always been bitter rivals despite not sharing a border – and it’s not just about Jollof. These two countries are like brothers that went separate ways but have never seen eye to eye. However, thanks to the long list of similarities that they possess and the close proximity Ghana has to Nigeria, it’s probably why this investment-friendly nation was the best choice for Twitter.

The World Bank also ranks Ghana higher than Nigeria when it comes to the ease of doing business. This, coupled with Ghana’s push to become an investment hub in the region made it the perfect candidate.

In its announcement, Twitter notes, “As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate. Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa.”

Kenya Still Has A Lot To Work On

As much as my argument stands, Kenya was never on Twitter’s radar because we are not their target market yet, our tax regime and ease of doing business needs to improve. Not only for locals but for international companies that may be looking to set up shop in Kenya.

The likes of Microsoft, Huawei, IBM and Google already operate in the country but if we want to attract even more companies; Apple, Facebook, Spotify and Amazon are already scouting in Africa, a lot of policies need to change. Otherwise, we shall continue to make noise online when the next tech giant announces official entry into Africa.

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Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream

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At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”

On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.

Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.

Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.

The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.

Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.

The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.

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The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.

Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.

In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.

Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.

Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.

But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.

“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.

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© Thomson Reuters 2021


Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Twitter Bans Sharing Personal Photos, Videos of Other People Without Consent

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Twitter launched new rules Tuesday blocking users from sharing private images of other people without their consent, in a tightening of the network’s policy just a day after it changed CEOs.

Under the new rules, people who are not public figures can ask Twitter to take down pictures or video of them that they report were posted without permission.

Beginning today, we will not allow the sharing of private media, such as images or videos of private individuals without their consent. Publishing people’s private info is also prohibited under the policy, as is threatening or incentivizing others to do so.https://t.co/7EXvXdwegG

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 30, 2021

Twitter said this policy does not apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”

“We will always try to assess the context in which the content is shared and, in such cases, we may allow the images or videos to remain on the service,” the company added.

The right of Internet users to appeal to platforms when images or data about them are posted by third parties, especially for malicious purposes, has been debated for years.

Twitter already prohibited the publication of private information such as a person’s phone number or address, but there are “growing concerns” about the use of content to “harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals,” Twitter said.

The company noted a “disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.”

High-profile examples of online harassment include the barrages of racist, sexist,and homophobic abuse on Twitch, the world’s biggest video game streaming site.

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But instances of harassment abound, and victims must often wage lengthy fights to see hurtful, insulting or illegally produced images of themselves removed from the online platforms.

Some Twitter users pushed the company to clarify exactly how the tightened policy would work.

“Does this mean that if I take a picture of, say, a concert in Central Park, I need the permission of everyone in it? We diminish the sense of the public to the detriment of the public,” tweeted Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York.

The change came the day after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced he was leaving the company, and handed CEO duties to company executive Parag Agrawal.

The platform, like other social media networks, has struggled against bullying, misinformation, and hate-fuelled content.


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Twitter likely to roll out ‘Reactions’ feature soon

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After unveiling several features this year, micro-blogging site Twitter is reportedly readying new features, including Reactions, Downvotes and Sorted Replies for iOS users.

According to reverse engineer Nima Owji, the Reactions feature, which started being tested a couple of months ago, is set to launch soon, reports 9To5Mac.

With four new reactions, “tears of joy,” “thinking face,” “clapping hands” and “crying face,” this feature is designed to give users the ability to better show how conversations make them feel and to give users “a better understanding of how their Tweets are received”.

Citing the reverse engineer, the report also mentioned that the micro-blogging site is now able to store data about the downvotes feature, which is another indicator that this function will be released sooner rather than later.

The report also notes that the company changed the downvote position as well. It has even added a new tab explaining how downvotes work.

This month, the company has rolled out its in-app tipping feature to all Android users above the age of 18, following the iOS launch in September.

Twitter said the “Tips” feature is geared toward users looking to get a little financial support from their followers through Cash App, PayPal, Venmo and Patreon directly through the app.

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