By Guest Writer,
Kenyans are one of the most active Twitter users on the African Continent.
According to Statista, the number of Twitter users by region in Africa for 2022 is as follows, 8 million for Northern Africa, Western Africa comes second with 6.3 million, followed by Eastern Africa which has 4 million users.
In Kenya, active Twitter users number 1.35 million; this is according to DataReportal.
Challenges faced in using Twitter
The first challenge Kenyans face when using Twitter is the issue of verifying their identity.
In Kenya, we have three Telecommunication companies, namely Safaricom, Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Twitter policy strictly added a new layer to identity; mobile phone numbers.
Twitter would lock accounts and ask users to verify their identity using mobile phone numbers.
People verified and were back but there was a new problem. In the subsequent requests for verification, which I now label as Twitter Ransom Racket, the code 100 per cent failed for Airtel and Telkom Kenya mobile numbers. Safaricom rarely failed/fails.
Check and fix this as many people are locked out of their accounts for months on end even forever. There is a 98 per cent chance that a Airtel Kenya or Telkom number will not work (receive code) at some point.
Some Kenyans think that Twitter is hard to use and that it is elitist.
This narrative was unfortunately also pushed by the @Twitter_Kenya ‘office’ which was shut down by Jack Dorsey after a scandal.
For verification, you will need to open regional Twitter offices in countries that are very active in Africa. Egypt for Northern Africa, Nigeria for Western Africa, Kenya for Eastern Africa and South Africa for Southern Africa. This will speed up the process of verification for accounts since anyone in the aforementioned countries will easily know which government verification document be it a National ID Card, social security card etc is used in the countries bordering it.
Twitter has been struggling with this and ended up not verifying, locking or suspending some genuine accounts.
We understand that Twitter’s primary market is the US and Western Countries, but we can move away from mere email and mobile phone verification to more government-issued cards if need be for verification and defeating bots.
Ideally, a mobile phone number which accepts a code generated by the Twitter system would be sufficient, but in Kenya, Airtel and Telkom numbers fail massively, to receive the code.
Identity and fighting bots
For sign-up, Twitter should take both phone and email instead of taking i.e. phone and when it fails, it is 100 per cent failure.
Why would Twitter only accept mobile phone numbers at sign-up, but when the code generation failed, it asks for an email to recover account? The best thing is to ask for both at sign-up.
Finally, unsuspend accounts across the board. We’ve seen you unsuspending accounts only for Western Countries nationals but no such mass unsuspension is witnessed in Africa.
Is it because we are unverifiable?
You have work to do as aforementioned.
Yours very Kenyan,
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