In November 2019, Twitter CEO Jack Patrick Dorsey tweeted from Addis Ababa Airport in Ethiopia that he would be there. “Africa” Up to six months in 2020. His high-profile month-long tour of the continent, where he visited Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia, is over, and the billionaire is feeling depressed. “Africa will define the future (especially Bitcoin one!),” He wrote. Covid will interrupt his trip, although in 2020 he went to Hampton and Hawaii with J-Z and hanging out on a yacht, and in January 2021 he went on vacation in French Polynesia to consider whether to ban Donald Trump from Twitter. . Then, two years and two days later he announced that he would be coming to Africa with his second mechanic, Dorsey The CEO has resigned. We never learned where he meant “Africa”. We know that his insanity and failure in three of the four countries he initially visited will have a significant impact on his legacy on the continent.
To the West, Twitter often looks like an acidic, hate-fueled, raging dumpster fire during Dorsey’s reign from 2015 to 2021. But what the West has got is the platinum version of Twitter. This is a version created by people who take their civic issues seriously because those issues are theirs too. The misinformation, hate speech and manipulation on the platform is far worse in my corner of the world and Dorsey’s legacy in Africa is more neglected and hypocritical than her legacy in the Western world.
In April 2021, almost 15 years after Twitter went live on the continent, the company announced that it would open its first physical presence in Africa, with a regional headquarters in Accra, Ghana. “Twitter is now on the continent,” Dorsey tweeted to one side Ghanaian flag emoji. Yet its presence is faint. Accra listed in Accra had job opportunities in advertising, engineering and communications. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. In fact, Twitter’s policy management team for sub-Saharan Africa is based in Europe. Like Google and Facebook before them, it quickly became clear that these new developments had little to do with helping Africans defend their freedom of speech or back down against authoritarian governments. Twitter’s Africa headquarters is not about Africans. It was effectively a colonial outpost, created to ensure that the data and money that Twitter was extracting from the continent survived. And the boundaries of this office will be tested again and again year after year because Twitter was used to sow resentment in several African countries.
Dorsey especially considers Nigeria as a relationship of convenience. In 2020, many Nigerians applauded his tweets calling for donations in an effort to end state rule of police brutality (#EndSARS). But his championing on the subject was inconsistent as repeated calls from Nigerian journalists, researchers and activists on the same Twitter account to flag or ban many seem to have been ignored. Scandalous and misleading claims about #EndSARS And other abuses that were rampant on the platform. Then, just two months after Twitter opened its African office, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari banned Twitter in the country for four months. This happened after the platform deleted a tweet from Buhari for violating the platform’s policy on offensive behavior, but a presidential spokesman quickly noted that the ban was much more than a tweet. “There have been a lot of problems with Nigerian social media platforms, where spreading false information and fake news has had violent consequences in the real world,” the spokesman emailed Bloomberg. “All the while, the company has run away from accountability.” It’s uncomfortable to agree with an authoritarian spokesman, but he had a point.
Perhaps nowhere in Africa has Dorsey’s Twitter failed more than in Ethiopia. Like Nigeria, the platform has found itself in a difficult position with an authoritarian government that has regularly disrupted the Internet in the face of a growing civil war. Last month, the platform announced that it was disabling its trend feature across Ethiopia, apparently to curb the threat of losses. “It is against our law to incite violence or dehumanize people.” The company explained a tweet. “We hope this measure will reduce the risk of adjustments that could lead to violence or harm.” This is a bizarre, backward argument. Make no mistake: Although Dorsey never explicitly admits, by removing the trending section Was Confession Twitter realized it could not handle the rate at which it was spreading hateful content. But instead of acknowledging that it designed the Trends algorithm to be a simple weapon and made hate speech highly contagious, or that it would make a deliberate effort to improve the feature, it effectively blamed the Ethiopians (for using the feature deliberately). . Here, too, Twitter borrows from the colonial playbook: Blam the colonists for the damage they have done to Africans.
Twitter has a tendency to trend issues; It is also hurting Kenyans. In my own research with the Mozilla Foundation, I explored how Twitter’s trending algorithm For the betterment of the confusion-rental industry In Kenya and for Kenya Journalists are the victims of the wave after the attack. When Pandora Papers involved the President of Kenya to deposit millions of dollars in offshore accounts, Advertisers have used Twitter to spread public outrage. When I reported my results on Twitter, the platform did the best job. This is the simple hack-a-mole method, suspending or deleting the objectionable accounts identified by me and my fellow researchers. It must prevent propaganda from continuing.