Right now the hashtags #RIPTwitter and #GoodbyeTwitter are the most-used terms worldwide on Twitter – including Kenya, South Africa and Ghana – as users fear the social media platform is going to be shut down.
The trending hashtags appear to be a reaction to the news that the company’s new CEO, Elon Musk, has “temporarily closed” the company’ offices, with immediate effect.
There’s added concern that if the platform were to shut down, it would have a significant impact on how citizens and activists’ voices can be amplified to hold power to account and make alliances with like-minded people around the world.
For many of you outside Africa, the closure of Twitter might be a downtime for you or an opportunity to explore other alternative platforms. For most Africans, this will be the end of strong civic participation in democratic governance.
— Kofi Yeboah (@kofiemeritus) November 18, 2022
The use of Twitter’s hashtag feature has been central to bringing awareness of African issues to a global audience, by making them a trending topic on the platform. The #EndSARS hashtag – which trended number one worldwide with more than 1 million tweets on the day of the Lekki tollgate shootings – brought international attention to police brutality in Nigeria.
In 2018, a video showing women and children being killed by Cameroonian soldiers went viral on Twitter, leading to a BBC Africa Eye investigation that resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of those soldiers.
It allowed the audience to become participants in investigation and make contributions, big and small, that could make a real difference. It meant incidents that would have otherwise been ignored ended up being investigated.
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 18, 2022
In 2014, the hashtag used to raise awareness of the kidnap of schoolgirls in Nigeria, was so closely associated with the story, that America’s former first lady, Michelle Obama tweeted a picture of herself with #BringBackOurGirls written on a piece of paper.
Many online are now searching for an alternative to the social media platform and there’s hope that an app made in Africa called Dikalo could be an alternative for the continent.
The company – named after the Douala language word for message – was founded by Cameroonian Alain Ekambi in 2017 has a mission to become “Africa’s best social network”. They also claim to have seen an uptick in new users in the weeks following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.
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