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Social Media Censorship: Africa is The Most Censorship-intensive Region, Accounting for 53 Percent of All Cases

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A new report has shown that when it comes to social media censorship, Africa is the most censorship-intensive region, accounting for nearly 53 percent of all cases in 2021 alone.

In the annual report put together by Surfshark, a cybersecurity company, social media censorship cases decline by 35 percent globally – down from 29 in 2020 to 19 in 2021. However, despite the notable decrease in cases “internet disruptions affected approximately a quarter of a billion people.”

In Africa, the majority of social media censorship happened during political events like elections and protests. The report noted that 37 percent of all shutdown cases were during protests while elections period accounted for the remaining 21 percent.

Earlier this year, the Nigerian government ban Twitter after the Jack Dorsey-led platform was accused of sponsoring the now famous EndSars protest in the country and trying to silence the president of Africa’s largest economy, President Muhammadu Buhari, by censoring a tweet from presidential handle for violating Twitter’s hate policy.

Even though the censorship numbers were lower in 2021, they followed a similar trend to last year. The shutdowns usually targeted apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Moreover, the vast majority of the social media shutdown cases were politics-related:

  • Seven cases (37%) affected countries suffering from protests (Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Senegal, Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Columbia).
  • Four cases (21%) affected countries during the presidential elections (Congo, Uganda, Zambia, and Russia).
  • The remaining eight cases (44%) occurred during general political turmoil (Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Iran, and Myanmar).

In comparison, out of 29 social media restriction cases in 2020, six were ordered amid elections, and eight more happened during various protests.

“In terms of politics, 2021 has been more stable than 2020, albeit still far from ideal. However, countries are evidently not afraid to pull the trigger on social media in areas of political turmoil. This is still especially true in Africa and Asia. And while this year showed a positive turn with fewer social media bans, it is yet to be seen whether the trend will continue in 2022 and beyond”, – says Vytautas Kaziukonis, CEO of Surfshark.

Incidents crippled communication for millions of people in times of political distress and a global pandemic. According to Surfshark’s study, 250 million people were affected during the blockings.

This year, Africa has become the most censorship-intensive continent across the globe, responsible for 10 (nearly 53%) of the cases in 2021. Its shutdowns were also the most political-heavy:

  • Africa led the social media shutdown numbers during election days (3 out of 4 total cases were in Congo, Uganda, and Zambia).
  • Chad blocked the internet following a raid at the property of Yaya Dillo, a representative of Chad’s government opposition. This event took place on February 28th, around two months before the presidential election.
  • Ethiopia claimed their social media blackout was due to leaked 12-grade exam papers. However, most people believe the internet was blocked when rebel forces claimed to have seized strategic towns.

About Surfshark

Surfshark, a Gold winner of the Most Innovative Security Service of the Year at the 2021 Cybersecurity Excellence awards , is a privacy protection toolset developed to provide its users with the ability to control their online presence seamlessly. The core premise of Surfshark is to humanize online privacy protection and develop tools that protect users’ privacy beyond the realm of a virtual private network. Surfshark is one of very few VPNs which have been audited by independent security experts.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Elon Musk Envisions X as the Future of Your Financial Life

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Tech visionary Elon Musk unveiled his vision for X, aiming to transform it into the epicenter of people’s financial worlds by the end of 2024.

Musk’s plan transcends mere payment solutions, targeting nothing short of the complete financial ecosystem, including money and securities. “You won’t need a bank account,” he affirmed.

X, led by CEO Linda Yaccarino, sees this as an ambitious opportunity that could reshape the financial landscape as we know it.

Musk expressed his unwavering commitment to the cause, stating, “It would blow my mind if we don’t have that rolled out by the end of next year.”

This ambition traces back to Musk’s dot-com-era online bank, X.com, which later evolved into PayPal. Musk aims to take a page from his earlier playbook, hoping to outshine PayPal with a more comprehensive approach.

The platform’s offerings are set to include high-yield money market accounts, debit cards, checks, and loan services. Musk’s endgame? An ecosystem that empowers users to send money worldwide instantly and in real-time.

However, this transformation is not without its challenges. Elon Musk must convince users of the necessity of such an all-encompassing platform while gaining their trust with their financial lives.

The vision of X as an “everything app” resonates with the rise of super apps like WeChat in China, which provide users with access to a myriad of services, from shopping to transportation.

As X positions itself to revolutionize the financial industry, Musk’s audacious endeavor promises to change the way we handle money, potentially eliminating the need for traditional banking as we know it.

The world watches with bated breath to see if Musk’s bold vision will become a reality.

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WhatsApp Introduces Dual Account Feature, Enabling Users to Sign Into Two Accounts

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WhatsApp has introduced a groundbreaking innovation that promises to redefine the user experience.

This new feature allows individuals to simultaneously manage two WhatsApp accounts on a single device, eliminating the need for dual phones.

The eagerly anticipated announcement was made by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, who assured Android users that this feature will soon grace their screens.

Gone are the days of juggling multiple WhatsApp accounts, a task that often required carrying two separate devices. While tech giants like Xiaomi and Oppo had previously introduced app cloning features for multiple WhatsApp instances, WhatsApp’s integrated approach sets a new standard for seamlessness.

This innovation is poised to be a game-changer for users who navigate both personal and professional realms on this ubiquitous messaging platform.

Cumbersome login-and-logout routines and the perpetual concern of messaging from the wrong account will soon be a thing of the past, replaced by a newfound ease of multitasking.

Activating this feature is a straightforward process. Users need only navigate to the ‘Settings’ menu and select ‘Add Account.’ During setup, a second phone with a SIM card or a device supporting eSIM technology is required to unlock the full potential of multi-SIM functionality.

WhatsApp ensures that each account can have its own customized notification and privacy settings, preserving data integrity and personalization.

In addition to the dual account feature, WhatsApp recently introduced passkey support for Android, enhancing security by providing an alternative to SMS-based two-factor authentication.

This latest advancement underscores WhatsApp’s dedication to user convenience, connectivity, and digital identity security, setting the stage for a more organized and efficient way of communication.

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X Takes on Bots: New Zealand and Philippines Users Pay $1 Subscription

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X, formerly known as Twitter, has embarked on a bold initiative to combat the growing menace of bots and spammers on its platform.

The company, now owned by Elon Musk, recently rolled out a new subscription plan in New Zealand and the Philippines, requiring new users to pay a mere US$1 per year for access to essential functions like tweeting, replying, retweeting, and liking.

The move, dubbed ‘Not A Bot,’ is designed to fortify X’s ongoing efforts to curb spam, manipulation, and bot activity. New users in these countries must first verify their phone numbers and then pay the nominal fee to post, like, reply, repost, quote posts, and bookmark.

Those who opt out of subscribing will be restricted to “read-only” actions, such as reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts.

Elon Musk, who has been at the helm of X, explained the rationale behind this strategy. Bots, he noted, are inexpensive to set up, costing only a fraction of a penny.

By imposing a nominal fee, X aims to deter bot operators and make it more challenging for them to create multiple accounts.

This move is a part of Musk’s broader vision for transforming X into an all-encompassing app, including payment services.

Musk has been exploring alternative revenue sources as ad revenue declined by 60% due to advertiser boycotts and concerns over content management.

As the ‘Not A Bot’ program unfolds, it holds the potential to revolutionize the fight against bots and spammers, making social media a safer and more authentic space for users. X is eager to assess the program’s effectiveness and may consider expanding it to all users in the future.

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