The Indian-born Parag Agrawal was appointed the new CEO of Twitter on Monday, picking the leadership baton from the outgoing CEO, Jack Dorsey. Data from Bloomberg showed that Agrawal is the youngest CEO to run a company in the S&P 500.
The 37-year-old Agrawal was born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. His father was a senior official in the Indian Department of Atomic Energy and his mother is a retired school teacher. Agrawal obtained his B.Tech. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2005, and further pursued Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in the United States.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he began his career as a researcher with Microsoft in 2006, thereafter worked with Yahoo!. He later returned to Microsoft in 2009, keeping his old role. Mid-year 2020, he joined AT&T Labs, Inc. after which he joined Twitter as Distinguished Software Engineer in 2017, a few years after he rose to the post of Chief Technical Officer. He’s currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer at Twitter.
The company revealed that Jack Dorsey, the outgoing CEO, will remain on the company’s board of directors until his term expires in 2022. While serving as Twitter’s CEO, Dorsey was also working with his payment processing company, Square in the same capacity as CEO. However, it was believed that his resignation from Twitter will enable him to focus on his payment company and also pursue other interests.
The new CEO, Agrawal is the first full-time CEO Twitter has had in years. Following his appointment on Monday, he sent his first official message as the CEO to Twitter employees. He said, “We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals, and I believe that strategy to be bold and right,”
“But our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results — that’s how we’ll make Twitter be the best it can be for our customers, shareholders, and for each of you.
“The world is watching us right now, even more than they have before, It’s because they care about Twitter and our future, and it’s a signal that the work we do here matters”. Agrawal wrote on Monday.
Twitter shareholders are expecting Agrawal to create a clear path strategy towards building the company’s revenue and engagement metrics. Despite the expanding growth of Twitter’s users, the company still lags behind in growth, stock returns and revenue compared to its peers in the social media space like Snapchat and Meta. Although Jack Dorsey has upped the company’s return and revenue by 62 percent and 68 percent respectfully since he took leadership in 2015, however, this could not be compared to the growth recorded by its social media rival, Meta, previously Facebook who reportedly gained over 250 percent in stock returns and over 4 times sales growth in the same time frame.
Speaking on the expectations from the new CEO, Jill Wilson the chief marketing officer for Esquire Digital said Agrawal is expected to pick up where Dorsey left off and continue to fight for users which are being lured away by competitors like TikTok and Instagram. “Agrawal has his work cut out for him in terms of keeping Twitter relevant and getting the everyday user on board, and monetizing the platform in general”. She added.
However, Mark Shmulik, an equity research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein believed otherwise. He argued that in order to remain competitive Agrawal may need to change the company’s culture so as to ensure that new products and strategies can be implemented at a quicker pace than it was done in the past leadership. “Can he at least avoid being the cog that everything needs to go through to get approvals and to get things moving? Can he give more autonomy to different parts of the org so they can move at a quicker pace?” Shmulik said.
Although Agrawal is just coming to the public limelight, growing Twitter business isn’t the only challenge at hand but also the moderation of speech through Twitter which has become a growing concern in the political sphere. “The new CEO will need to work out how to stop his platform being a machine that is routinely and perpetually hijacked to distort the news agenda, produce fake popularity and influence, and provide a warped lens on the world,” said Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban Seven Months After Shutting it Down
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that Twitter Ban be lifted seven months after the federal government suspended the micro logging platform operations in Nigeria.
The Director of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who also doubles as the Chairman, Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement made this known in a statement on Wednesday, in Abuja. According to him, the approval for the suspension of the ban follows a memo written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022. The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.
“In the Memo, the Minister updated and requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation,” Abdullahi said.
It can be recalled that Twitter’s operation was suspended seven months ago, on June 6, 2021 after the microblogging platform deleted a tweet by President Buhari, where he warned those (believed to be members of the Independent People of Biafra- IPOB) destroying INEC’s properties and buildings.
Since then, there has been a back and forth between the federal government who demanded that Twitter open a Nigerian Office and pay taxes, and the microblogging service. However, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in November last year, revealed that correspondence between the federal government and Twitter had reached an advanced stage. He noted that with a few issues to resolve, Twitter had been able to meet 10 out of twelve.
According to British firm, Top10VPN, the ban had affected around 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria. NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool also revealed that the ban costs Nigeria’s economy N103 million every hour. A week after the suspension, many Nigerians took to downloading Virtual Private Networks to access their Twitter accounts in the country.
French Privacy Watchdog Fines Facebook, Google Nearly $240M
Cookies on a website stores user information. However, France’s privacy regulator has slammed the tech giants, saying that user private information can be hijacked by hackers when they accept the cookies.
CNIL, in its statement, ordered Google and Facebook to fix the issue within three months or face daily fines of more than $100,000 from the restricted committee, the CNIL body that handles sanctions.
“The restricted committee considered that this process affects the freedom of consent: since, on the Internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favor of consent,” the CNIL wrote.
That puts the two companies in violation of the French Data Protection Act. On Facebook, YouTube and Google sites, one click can enable cookies but it takes multiple clicks to refuse them all, the watchdog commission added.
“While cookies are largely a matter of privacy and convenience, criminals can hijack them to spy on users.”
Google in response to the European nation’s order, said that it was working to make changes in response to the CNIL commandment.
Facebook also noted that it was reviewing the fines demanded of them, by France’s CNIL.
WhatsApp Launches #YouSaid Education Campaign to Make People More Aware of False News in Nigeria
WhatsApp, has announced the launch of #YouSaid, a campaign to educate people on how to verify information they come across before passing it on, to help reduce the spread of false news in Nigeria.
The campaign offers tips for WhatsApp users to spot false news and take responsibility in minimizing its spread, by encouraging people to think carefully and check authoritative sources before deciding to share any information with their friends and family.
“At WhatsApp, all personal messages are protected with end-to-end encryption because the safety and security of our users and their messages is important to us. ” Akua Gyekye, WhatsApp Public Policy Lead said while commenting on the launch of the campaign. “While we remain committed to creating a safe space for our users to communicate privately, we encourage everyone to verify any information they receive and confirm whether it is true or false before sharing it with other people. Regardless of the person you received the information from, as soon as you share any information, it becomes something people think #YouSaid. Our hope is that this campaign will open up a conversation on the importance of verifying information and thinking carefully about what people read, trust and choose to share” Gyekye added.
Here are four easy ways to reduce the spread of false news on WhatsApp
- Understand what a ‘Forwarded’ message means: Any message that has the ‘forwarded’ label (an arrow or double arrow icon) did not start with the person who sent it to you. They will also have received it from someone else before passing it on to you. If you are not sure the information is true, do not forward it to someone else without verifying it.
A double arrow icon and “Forwarded many times” label will be displayed when a message has been forwarded more than five times since it was originally sent and will restrict sharing to just one chat at a time.
- Always fact check information with other sources: False news can go viral, and photos, audio recordings, and videos can be edited to mislead you. If you’re unsure whether a message is true, check trusted news sites to see where the story came from. When a story is reported in multiple places and from trustworthy sources, it’s more likely to be true.
- Look out for messages that look different: If you receive messages that have such things like misspelled words, wrong dates, awkward layouts, unrelated pictures and web addresses (URLs), it’s a sign that the information could be false.
- Read the message objectively: Don’t let what you think you know get in the way of your judgment. Review the facts yourself before sharing information. Stories that seem hard to believe are often untrue.
Today, WhatsApp protects the personal communication of over two billion users all over the world, securing it with end-to-end encryption by default.
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