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Twitter To Work In Restoring Access for Nigerian Users

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The management of Twitter has reacted to the ban on its operations by the Nigerian government, assuring Nigerian users that it will work to restore access.

In a statement on its Public Policy handle, the social media platform said: “We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.”

The microblogging site said, “We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn,”

The Federal Government had Friday suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service site in Nigeria, citing the persistent use of the Twitter platform for activities that were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

The Twitter ban was announced by the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, two days after Twitter deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet posted wherein he threatened to deal with secessionists “in the language they understand”.

The social media networking site had said the tweet violated the Twitter Rules.

The President had released series of tweets after meeting with the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, at the State House in Abuja on Tuesday, wherein he warned that those promoting insurrection and those sponsoring destruction of critical national assets would soon have the shock of their lives.

He had also threatened to deal with “those misbehaving today” “in the language they understand.”

The ban has attracted widespread condemnations as Nigerians described it as a violation of the rights of citizens and a prelude to dictatorship.

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Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Leaves Some Businesses in the Lurch

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Lagos-based entrepreneur Ogechi Egemonu was selling more than 500,000 naira ($1,219) worth of watches, shoes and handbags on Twitter per week.

Now, with the site suspended by the Nigerian government, Egemonu does not know how she will cope.

“Social media is where I eat,” she told Reuters. “I depend on social media for my livelihood.”

Scores of small and medium-sized businesses across Africa’s most populous nation – and largest economy – are reeling from the indefinite suspension of the social media site.

Nigeria announced the suspension on June 4, days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists. Most telecommunications sites have since blocked access.

NOI Polls estimates that 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter – 20% of them for business advertisement and 18% to look for employment. Experts warn its lack of ready availability – it is accessible using Virtual Private Networks that mask location – could ripple across the economy.

“The ban has significant collateral damage,” said Muda Yusuf, director general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, who said that a “sizeable number of citizens” use Twitter to make a living.

REVENUE LOSS

Parliament’s minority caucus warned the suspension was costing Nigerians “billions of naira on a daily basis.”

Dumebi Iyeke, a research analyst with the Financial Derivatives Company, said it would hit young Nigerians – among whom there is a 45% unemployment rate – the hardest.

“We are looking at a potential loss in their revenue,” Iyeke said, adding that it could further lower living standards amid high inflation.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed last week said that all social media sites must register a local entity and get a license to operate. He cited complaints over lost money as proof that the ban was effective, but said other sites are still available.

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Opera Launches Hype, an in-browser Chat Service for Opera Mini Users, in South Africa

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Today, Opera has announced the launch of its dedicated chat service Hype, built into the Opera Mini mobile web browser, in South Africa. With the introduction of Hype, Opera is redefining the concept of mobile browsers, providing users with a personalized, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless chatting, surfing and sharing – without compromising speed or driving increased data consumption.

Browsing and chatting, all in one app

Hype is the first African-inspired chat service built into a mobile browser, allowing users to easily set up an account and start chatting with secure end-to-end encryption right away. This means users can now browse the web, chat with friends, and share self-created memes, stickers and GIFs with other Hype users, all in one app.

Hype was built because younger generations of internet users are expecting more social connectivity from the apps they use on their devices. With this integration, Opera Mini becomes the first major browser in the world to integrate a social component that keeps users connected to the ones that matter the most. This unique and innovative blend is something that no other mobile browser in the Google Play Store offers.

Hype is an original instant messaging service from Opera, designed for the new generation of African internet users to elevate the traditional browsing experience and make it more engaging. With Opera Mini and a Hype account, South Africans can enjoy a browsing and chatting ecosystem tailored to their needs,” said Jørgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile Browsers at Opera. “Hype bridges cultures from Sub-Saharan Africa with mobile technology, as the world’s first African-inspired chat service.

Hype was first launched in 2021 in Kenya as a pilot market, and it is already showing impressive results with more than 400k activations and more than 10k invites to join Hype per day. This launch was one facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, with the goal of bringing more people online.

Free chatting with Hype

To help familiarize people with the concept of an easy-to-use chatting service built into a browser and as a response to the high cost of data in South Africa, Opera has partnered (https://bit.ly/3gi1suV) with CELL C in South Africa to enable free daily browsing and chatting for those using the service. Users of Opera Mini (https://bit.ly/2TeFhh3) and CELL C can activate the free data anytime by opening the Feedback Bot in Hype, sending “Unlock my free data” in chat, then clicking the link in the reply message. The free 25MB of mobile data per day will be activated when the page is loaded.

Key features

Opera is constantly working on improving the chatting experience. Hype users can now use link previews, GIF support, and the unique built-in meme creator to make chatting with friends even more personal and fun.

The built-in meme creator

Memes are an essential part of internet culture. People not only use existing memes, but also wish to create and spread their own. Now, Opera has introduced the first meme creator built directly into a browser’s messenger! Users can choose memes in Hype chat, then edit them by changing the text and experimenting with fonts, colors and placement – more easily than ever. This comes in handy as users no longer need to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the memes they want.

GIF support in chat

Hype supports GIFs, and makes choosing them super simple with its search capabilities and scrollable GIF grid. To help users choose the one they want, GIF previews and full screen view are also available.

Link previews

It’s always good to know what’s hiding behind a link we’ve sent or received, which is why Hype comes with the link preview feature. With it, a snapshot preview, website header and description will automatically appear in chat. This function is also available in encrypted chats and on metered networks.

Share online content in a snap

Today, new generations are relying on formats like memes and stickers to express themselves. To make this easier, Hype includes WebSnap, a feature already known from the Opera desktop browser, allowing users to take snapshots from the web. Once a websnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colors, text and emojis, making it fun and entertaining before sharing with others. WebSnap also allows users to smoothly share the link of the original website from which they took their snaps, so users no longer need to switch between apps to share the content they want.

First African inspired chat service in the world

Hype is the first African inspired chat service built into a mobile browser. It offers its users a series of stickers created by African artists such as Musonda Kabwe from South Africa. The sticker packs have been designed to include everyday expressions currently popular in South Africa. This unique offer from Hype stands out from other chat services and gives South Africans the new ways of expressing themselves more accurately when using chat apps.

Hype account setup

To activate the Hype account, users should have an Opera Mini application. Users set up a Hype account by tapping the Hype logo at the bottom of the Opera Mini browser, or through the O menu. Next they choose their name and take a selfie or upload a personalised photo, which will become their profile picture and will be visible for other Hype users. Once this process is completed, users sync Hype with their phone contact list to start chatting with others.

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FG Denies Giving Conditions To Lift Twitter Suspension

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has denied media reports quoting him as giving conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter Operations in Nigeria.

ON Monday, the minister held talks with some envoys of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union. Mr. Oyenma had said that “Twitter’s operations in Nigeria will be restored only if the platform can be used responsibly”.

However, Ferdinand Nwonye, the spokesperson for the ministry said the “Minister has been quoted out of context.”

In a statement released on Monday shortly after the meeting to clarify the Minister’s comments, the statement reads;

“The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to misleading reports by several media outlets published today, June 7, 2021, in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, was misquoted as giving conditions for lifting the Twitter suspension.

“The Minister, after a meeting with some Heads of Diplomatic Missions resident in Nigeria, was quoted to have said that Twitter’s operations in Nigeria will be restored only if the platform can be used responsibly.

“This statement by the Minister has been quoted out of context.

“Contrary to the publications, the Minister was speaking about the responsibilities that go with freedom of speech, stating that platforms that have the power to instantly disseminate information among billions of people have the added responsibility to exercise that power responsibly.

“The ministry wishes to state categorically that the Minister did not give any conditions regarding lifting the Twitter suspension.”

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