Last Friday, the Nigerian government announced on Twitter that it had indefinitely suspended the platform.
The move came two days after Twitter deleted a controversial tweet that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari made about a secessionist movement.
In recent months, pro-Biafra separatists with the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in southeastern Nigeria have been accused of attacking police and government buildings. In his tweet, Buhari vowed to “treat them in the language they understand.”
Twitter deleted Buhari’s post last Wednesday, calling it abusive.
Buhari’s indefinite Twitter ban has raised concerns about free speech in Nigeria and also the perhaps outsized power of a US-based social media company to silence a Nigerian president.
The World spoke with Nigerian writers Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún about the Twitter scandal that has many talking online and offline about its implications.
Túbọ̀sún, based in Lagos, said that the Twitter ban signals the government’s slide into a dictatorship.
“Not only were they trying to muzzle Twitter or prevent [people] from using it, they started talking about criminalizing the use of the platform…”
“Not only were they trying to muzzle Twitter or prevent [people] from using it, they started talking about criminalizing the use of the platform, which has crossed from just a government regulation into actually the stifling of free speech and the freedom of the press,” he said.
“They were compelling media houses to delete their Twitter handles. … [This is] reminiscent of a time in the past when a president can just say something through a decree,” noting that Buhari already has a reputation for shutting down dissent.
Nwaubani, based in the capital of Abuja, said that Twitter’s decision to delete Buhari’s controversial tweet sets up an inconsistent double standard that’s nearly impossible to regulate across the board.
“I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with some millennial, you know, swiveling on a chair in the Silicon Valley — seeing outrage from Nigerians, and he doesn’t know how many Nigerians, he doesn’t know what section [of Nigeria], he doesn’t understand the context — and just comes and deletes the tweets of a president of an African country.”
“As much as the tweet was ill-advised,” she said, “I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with some millennial, you know, swiveling on a chair in the Silicon Valley — seeing outrage from Nigerians, and he doesn’t know how many Nigerians, he doesn’t know what section [of Nigeria], he doesn’t understand the context — and just comes and deletes the tweets of a president of an African country. I think that was also ill-advised,” she said.
Nwaubani noted that the Biafran separatist group also has provocative tweets that remain online and so do other presidents and high-level leaders in Africa.
“If you’re going to [delete Buhari], then … go to every president around Africa,” she said. “You can’t just single out the president of a country and just delete a conversation he’s having with these people.”
Túbọ̀sún’s counterpoint: It’s not about Africans vs. non-Africans or Silicon Valley young people versus political heads — it’s about rules and regulations for all.
“What we should demand is that the rules be equally applied. … The president is not above the law. If you’re signed [on] to use the platform, you should definitely abide by the rules.”
“What we should demand is that the rules be equally applied,” he said. “The president is not above the law. If you’re signed [on] to use the platform, you should definitely abide by the rules.”
Nwaubani said Buhari’s Twitter ban is likely more to do with a bruised ego and protecting his strong-man image than anything else.
Túbọ̀sún hopes the lesson here is that no matter how bruised a president’s ego, it’s still the job of a democratically elected government to protect citizens’ right to free speech.
But “Nigeria wouldn’t grind to a halt if Twitter disappears,” said Nwaubani, who noted that out of Nigeria’s 200 million people, only about 16% use social media.
Still, there are an estimated 40 million Twitter users in Nigeria, and many are now using virtual private networks to log onto the popular platform, despite warnings that they could face arrest.
This article is written based on an interview and has been edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report.
Twitter likely to roll out ‘Reactions’ feature soon
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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Tesla shares have fallen 10% since Musk conducted a Tweet poll about the sale. They dropped more than 17% within the first few days following the Nov.
Twitter Investigating Bug Causing Unexpected Logouts on iOS 15
Posts on Twitter over the last several hours have shown users experiencing the bug, with some sharing frustrations that the app is requiring them to log back into Twitter upon every app launch. While some of the reports lack the specificity that the bug is happening on iOS devices, it seems likely to be the case following the acknowledgment from Twitter itself.
WHY IS TWITTER LOGGING ME OUT OF ALL OF MY ACCS???? I HAVE 8 TWITTER ACCS AND DO YOU KNOW HOW HAED TO LOG IN ALL OF THEM???????? IVE BEEN DOING IT 2 TIME ALREADY SINCE OCTOBER
— kyle (@leeknowonIyfans) November 24, 2021
I almost got a heart attack when I tried to get in my Twitter and it wanted me to log in?? I never logged out 😭😩😭
— Enny Does It All❤ (@Queen_Enny19) November 24, 2021
Users impacted by the bug are advised to ensure they’re running the latest Twitter version from the App Store and monitor the company’s support account for updates.
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