Twitter Ban

  • 14 false claims that thrived on Nigeria Twitter despite ban

    On June 4, 2021, Twitter was banned by the Nigerian government, after a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, which threatened to punish regional secessionists, was removed.

    The government, however, claimed that  the ban was not because the president’s tweet was removed but because of what it described as the “unceasing use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along tribal and religious lines, among others.” 

    Following the ban, many Nigerians were unable to access the platform while some others continued to use Twitter via Virtual Private Networks (VPN). The ban was eventually lifted from 12 midnight, January 13, 2022. 

    Despite the seven months ban, however, Twitter was still a major source of mis and disinformation in the second half of 2021. Here are some of the major falsehoods that emanated from Twitter fact-checked by  DUBAWA.

    1. Twitter Doesn’t Recognise Buhari as Nigerian president.

    The Twitter ban itself became a source of several misinformation. A Twitter screenshot on the same day that Twitter was banned claimed Twitter does not recognise Muhammadu Buhari as Nigerian president.

    The screenshot alleged to have originated from Twitter’s official handle reads: “Dear @MBuhari We have no idea who you are or what country you are leading, we have come across a tweet that violates our rule number 4 of “safety and freedom” and removed it”. 

    DUBAWA, however, found that this was false as the Twitter screenshot circulating with this claim was manipulated.

    1. Twitter was apologetic to the Nigerian Government

    Another viral screenshot allegedly from Twitter’s public policy handle claimed Twitter was apologetic and ready to mend things with the Nigerian Government.

    But this was also a manipulated tweet, created using online tools. 

    1. Twitter changed the retweet button to green in Solidarity with the June 12 protest.

    Many Nigerians on June 12, 2021, took to the streets in peaceful protests against bad governance, public corruption, maladministration and insecurity. 

    This protest which held simultaneously in different cities across Nigeria had no central or structured leadership, just like the #EndSARS protests in October 2020.

    During the June 12 protest which was being promoted largely on Twitter, a Twitter user claimed Twitter’s Retweet button had been changed from blue to green in solidarity with Nigeria but DUBAWA found that the retweet button had always been green and even when it was changed in 2016, it was from one shade of green to another with no connection to Nigeria. 

    1. Kenyans protested in solidarity with Nigerians

    This was another claim that emanated from the June 12 protest. A Twitter post accompanied by an image depicts Kenyans standing with Nigerians during the June 12 protest was false as the image featured in the 2020 EndSARS protest in Abuja.

    1. Kenya’s president’s Twitter account was suspended because of Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest

    Following the arrest of Nigerian secessionist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, a Twitter user claimed the account of Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, got suspended because Biafrans reported it over Kanu’s arrest.

    This was found to be false because the Kenyan President had deactivated his Twitter account since 2019 and the alleged account suspended was a fake account of the President created in March 2020. 

    1. 32% of Nigerians own bitcoin 

    Crypto has become a big deal in Nigeria with bitcoin in the lead despite the ban on its use by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). 

    The chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter, Jack Dorsey in August claimed 32 percent of Nigerians own bitcoin. This, however, is misleading as he misquoted the outcome of a survey by Statista. It was 32 percent of Nigerians who partook in the survey conducted by Statista that owned or used Bitcoin.

    1. Typhoid fever is caused by stress

    A Twitter user in September 2021 claimed he was sick with typhoid due to stress from commuting from mainland Lagos to Island, but typhoid, as explained by experts,  is not caused by stress. Typhoid is caused by a microorganism known as salmonella typhi.

    1. The Nigerian government is registering inmates for the upcoming general election

    On September 21, 2021,  a Twitter user posted two images with the claim that the Nigerian Government had started registering all inmates in Nigeria’s correctional facilities for the upcoming general election.

    The first image shows a group of men seated together with some without shirts, while the second image shows what appears to be Nigerian inmates lined up in their green uniforms while a staff of the correctional centre stood by.

    However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Correctional Service, state that inmates were not undergoing voter registration for the next general election scheduled to come up in 2023. 

    1. Ahmad Lawan is the single longest serving legislator at the national assembly

    On September 25, 2021, Chidi Odinkalu, a lawyer and human rights activist, took to his Twitter handle to say that Senator Ahmad Lawan,  is the single longest-serving legislator at the National Assembly since 1999.

    However, contrary to Odinkalu’s claim, the senate president, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), is not the single longest serving legislator at the National Assembly since 1999. DUBAWA found that a member of the House of Representatives, Nicholas Mutu (Bomadi/Patani), is the longest serving legislator as he has also been a legislator at the National Assembly since 1999.

    If Mr. Odinkalu had said Ahmad Lawan is the single longest-serving “Senator” not “Legislator” at the National Assembly since 1999, just as Nicholas Mutu holds the same record at the Federal House of Representatives, then he would have been right. 

    1. 10,000 CFA now equal to 10,000 Naira

    A Twitter user claimed that the West African CFA Franc is equal to the Naira but this is misleading as official rates show the Naira is still slightly higher in value to the CFA. Even though the Naira had lost so much value that the normal gap between the two currencies dropped, the Naira was still higher.

    1. Boko Haram impose sharia law in Niger state

    On October 7, 2021, a Twitter user claimed that Boko Haram had imposed Sharia law in some communities in Shiroro local government area of  Niger State, North Central Nigeria. The communities named were Kawure, Kuregbe, Awulo and Chukuba.

    The Twitter user also claimed Boko Haram had informed Muslims and Christians that twelve year old girls were to be married off. However, evidence available, shows the claim is misleading.

    1. Zero voter turnout in Onitsha

    The November 6 Anambra governorship election was also a victim of false claims from Twitter. 

    One claim on Election Day was that polling units in Onitsha remained empty with zero voter turnout. This was however quickly debunked by one of our observers in the field who noted that in Onitsha there was low voter turnout not zero and the low voter turnout was only at the newly established polling units in the area. 

    1. Unidentified armed men invaded and attacked Aguata LGA

    Another claim on the Anambra Elections was that unidentified armed men invaded  Aguata Local Government Area (LGA), Immaculate Heart Ekwulobi, and attacked party agents and electoral officers. The claim also added that the attackers made away with election materials which led to the cancellation of voting. 

    This was verified false as another observer who was at the location confirmed this was not true as voters were still on queue waiting to vote with no threats. 

    1. RCCG launched a dating website

    The screenshot of a Twitter post by TODAY.ng went viral in December with the claim that the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) launched an online dating website.

    This was a news report shared with a misleading headline as our findings show that while it is true a parish of RCCG launched a dating website, this was not a product of the entire RCCG.

  • Twitter now accessible as Nigerian government lifts ban after seven months

    Over 200 days after Twitter ban in Nigeria, the microblogging and social networking application is now accessible to Nigerians without a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

    The government in a statement on Tuesday, January 12, 2022, announced the suspension would be lifted by 12 midnight, January 13, 2022. 

    “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,” a statement by Kashifu Abdullahi, the  Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) who also doubles as the chair of the joint technical committee of Nigerian and Twitter officials reads.

    On June 4,  2021, the Nigerian government suspended Twitter after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari which threatened to punish regional secessionists. 

    The government, however, said the suspension was due to the “unceasing use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along tribal and religious lines, among others”. 

    Subsequently, telecommunication companies blocked Nigerian users from accessing the application leading to the rise in the Use of VPNs.

    The ban was condemned by Nigerians and the international community and was even described as a real risk to democracy

  • How & why is Nigeria losing billions to Twitter ban

    During the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, August 7, the Nigerian government promised it would lift the ban it placed on Twitter, a microblogging site.

    The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced this on behalf of the government and further submitted that the team set up by the federal government has been having an “extremely positive” dialogue with Twitter. 

    While “appreciating the anxiety of Nigerians,” the information minister, in his hope-raising words, submitted that “the end for an amicable solution is very much in sight.”

    But fast forward in September 2021 — barely four months after the micro-blogging website was slammed with a ban– it has been like waiting for Godot as the country continues to lose money to an action many consider to be draconian, obnoxious and unnecessarily overthought.

    A way to the background 

    The Nigerian government on Saturday, June 5, officially banned Twitter from operating in the country, following its seemingly impulsive removal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s controversial tweet.

    Irked by the wanton destruction, killings and attacks on security operatives in the southeast and south-south regions of the country, the president, a former military head of state and repentant democrat had threatened to treat some aggressive secessionists “in the language they understand.”

    Buhari’s statement came amid mounting security threats across the country climaxed by the abduction of some students in both government colleges and universities in Niger, Kaduna, and Zamfara by bandits.

    Controversial as it was widely understood, the statement was trailed by a whirlpool of reactions, with a number of social media users on Twitter calling on Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of the platform to give the “Buhari a Donald Trump treatment.” 

    Trump, a former US president, was suspended by Twitter after his tweet led to the attack on the Capitol amid grand delusions to overturn the victory of his predecessor Joe Biden in the November 3, 2020 election.

    In a subsequent move, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered all the broadcast media in the country to suspend the use of Twitter “with immediate effect.”

    This was contained in a statement issued by its former director-general, Armstrong Idachaba, on Monday, July 7.

    Garba Shehu, a presidential aide, in a statement said “the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing.” He also claimed Twitter was not banned but temporarily suspended, citing that it is a place where “misinformation” trends, among other reasons.

    The Nigerian government has since then endorsed Koo, which represents a significant push in the Indian app’s journey to position itself as a genuine challenger to Twitter in Nigeria.

    However, in fierce defiance, Nigerians have continued to be using Twitter albeit with Virtual Private Network (VPN), a connection that extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks.

    Nigeria government losing money to Twitter ban: how?

    The country is said to have 40 million active Twitter users, though this claim has been disputed. The fact, however, remains that the micro-blogging platform not only provides jobs for Nigerians as social media managers and influencers but also generates revenue into the purse of the government.

    The Twitter ban has been having a strong effect on the revenue of Nigeria, with Africa’s most populous nation said to be losing a whopping N96.7million ($260,000) every single hour ever since July 2021 when the ban was announced.

    Between June 5 when the ban took effect and September 8 (96 days), Nigeria has lost N209 billion ($577 million) according to Netblocks.

    Netblock showing the amount of money Nigeria lost to #Twitterban in 96 days. Credit: Netblocks

    How does Netblock arrive at its figure?

    Netblocks, a data-driven web application that allows people, including journalists, researchers, advocates, policymakers to rapidly evaluate the economic cost of internet outages, makes estimates through its Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST).

    COST, a data-driven online policy instrument, gives an estimate on the economic impact of internet disruption, mobile data blackout, or app restriction in a nation registered under it.

    To achieve this, it uses indicators from the World Bank, International Telecommunication Union, Eurostat and U.S. Census.

    With this parameter which can be used for the cost of internet disruption on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram Whatsapp, Netblocks gives the exact cost of Twitter app restriction in Nigeria to be N209 billion ($577 million) since the ban came to effect in June 2021.

    The researcher produced this explainer per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Adamu Garba claimed Crowwe App was removed for an update but this is false

    Claim: The CEO of Crowwe application and one-time presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, has claimed that he asked Google to take down his social media platform from Google Playstore because he needed to update the App.

    Verification has shown that an Application must not necessarily be removed for Updates and Google is not in the best position to remove apps for updates. Google only removes applications that are perceived to have violated its policy.

    Full story

    Following the announcement of a ban on Twitter by the Nigerian Government, the Chief Executive Officer, IPI Group, Adamu Garba, recently presented the Crowwe app as an alternative to the microblogging website.

    Meanwhile a publication by Peoples Gazette on Monday, June 14, 2021, stated that Google had deleted Crowwe App days after the federal government suspended Twitter.

    The publication noted that the app has since received terrible reviews which could be responsible for its disappearance on the play store app.

    Screenshots of  Peoples Gazette publication and Twitter post

    In reaction to the publication, Garba made a statement on Tuesday the 15th of June 2021, that he asked Google to take Crowwe down because he needed to update the App.

    Garba in an interview with The PUNCH, on Monday, said there was a bug affecting the contact list information, so he had to submit a support report to take it down which was done, and the app would be back latest by Tuesday Morning.

    Screenshot of Punch publication on Monday

    Verification

    To verify this claim, Dubawa visited Google play store on Tuesday to check if the app has been uploaded but it appears the App is still missing.

    This prompted Dubawa to verify if the App needs to be taken down to fix technical issues.

    An App Developer, the co-founder/CEO of Elesaro, Johnpaul Nwobodo, said an application must not be removed before any update, as users can download the update on Play store.

    Adding that, even if the App must be removed for any technical update, it is the developer or the company that is meant to remove the app not the host, in other words “not Google”.

    Dubawa checked on Google Play Console help, and it revealed that the Developer just needs to submit the  app bundle or APK  and Once the update is published, it will be distributed to existing users.

    Another look at a programming site, Venkatramanan Ramasubramanian, a mobile application developer said that a company does not necessarily have to remove an application before updating it.

    Google removes applications that are perceived to have violated its policy.

    Has Crowwe App Violated Google Policy?

    Recall that Dubawa verified a claim by critics, that Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions were copied from another app, Spotify and it turned out to be true. Dubawa checked some of the reviews from the app users and found one threatening complain by Hollarisky, on the 06/14/2021, to sue play Store

     

    Screenshot of Hollarisky’s complain

    Dubawa went on to study the Google Play store terms and policies and it states that Google can take down apps that  causes harm or liability to a user, third party, or Google — for example, by hacking, phishing, harassing, spamming, misleading others, or scraping content that doesn’t belong to you.

    Google Play store Policy reads “Once your app is removed, the published version of your app won’t be available on Google Play until a compliant update is submitted,” 

    “Until a policy violation has been fixed, don’t republish a removed app,”

    About Crowwe App

    Crowwe is a Nigerian multi-purpose app built to ensure privacy in instant messaging and financial transaction app that comes with a digital wallet that helps to transfer and receive money while chatting.

    The Crowwe app, which has been described as the Nigerian multi-purpose app, built to ensure privacy in instant messaging, ease mobile payment,  connect with friends and family while building business and life, has received the worst reviews, with a 1.1 Rating from the App store.

    Screenshot of App review

    Conclusion

    Dubawa’s Verification has shown that an Application must not necessarily be removed for Updates and Google is not in the best position to remove apps for updates. Google removes applications that are perceived to have violated its policy.

    As of the time of filing this report, the Crowwe App is still missing on play store. So this is to say that Adamu Garba’s claim that he asked Google to take down his social media platform from Google Playstore because he needed to update the code, is False

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the 2021 Kwame Karikari Fact-checking Fellowship partnership with JAY 101.9 FM Jos to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country

  • How #Twitterban, Koo emergence allow Nigerians to explore tech space

    Irked by the wanton destruction, killing and attacks on security operatives in the southeast and south-south regions of the country, the president, a former military Head of State and self-styled democrat had threatened to treat some aggressive secessionists “in the language they understand.”

    Buhari’s statement came amid mounting security threats across the country climaxed by the abduction of some students in both government colleges and university in Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara by bandits.

    Controversial as it was widely understood, the statement was trailed by a whirlpool of reactions, with a number of social media users on Twitter calling on Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of the platform to give the “Buhari a Donald Trump treatment.” 

    Trump, a former US president, was suspended by Twitter after his tweet led to the attack on the Capitol amid grand delusions to overturn the victory of his predecessor Joe Biden in the November 3, 2020 election.

    NBC sanction

    In a subsequent move, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered all the broadcast media in the country to suspend the use of Twitter “with immediate effect.”

    This was contained in a statement issued by its former director general, Armstrong Idachaba, on Monday, July 7.

    Garba Shehu, a presidential aide, in a statement said “the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing.” He also claimed Twitter was not banned but temporarily suspended, citing that it is a place where “misinformation” trends, among other reasons.

    However, in a fierce defiance, Nigerians have continued to be using Twitter albeit with Virtual Private Network (VPN), a connection that extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks.

    Enters Koo app

    One of the reasons Twitter was banned — or “temporarily suspended” was because as the Minister of Communication and Culture, Lai Mohammed said, it wascapable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria.”

    In a bid to cut down the intimidating influence of Twitter, Koo, an Indian micro-blogging app, was endorsed by the Nigerian presidency, with President Buhari leading the cart of his followers to the app.

    Koo app itself is a product of revolt. It is borne out of Indian government’s desire to sumerge Twitter in the populous country after the platform was suspended in what appears to be a long deadlock emerging from clash of interest.

           Screenshot of president Buhari’s profile on Koo. Credit: Koo app
               Official account of the Nigerian government on Koo. Credit Koo app.

    The Nigerian government’s endorsement of Koo, without any iota of doubt, represents a significant push in the app’s journey to position itself as a genuine challenger to Twitter in the country.

    This is because hundreds of Nigerians, mostly Buhari’s supporters, have joined the Koo app in solidarity with the presidency’s position on the Twitter ban.

    On the other side of the trenches, social media influencers whose work were affected by the ban have refused to join the platform, describing it as an attempt to gag “free speech” and strengthen the government’s vocal desire to bring social media under control.

    Bashir Ahmad, media aide to the president on social media joins Koo. Credit: Koo app.

     Koo a blessing in disguise? 

    Although Koo may find it difficult to outmuscle Twitter on the Nigerian internet space, its presence has provided the country’s social media users with a viable alternative of communication and expression of free speech.

    Twitter, over the time, has been the biggest platform that provides a voice for Nigerians who often checkmate the excess of the government.

    With over 40 million active users, the platform not only provides jobs for Nigerians as social media managers and influencers, but also generates revenue into the purse of the government.

    According to netblocks, a data-driven web application that allows people to rapidly evaluate the economic cost of Internet outages, Nigeria has been losing money daily over Twitter ban.

    Between June 5 and 25 the government suspended Twitter operations, the country, according to netblock, has lost over $150m (approximately N54 billion). 

    Data showing Nigeria’s loss since Twitter was banned by the government. Credit: Netblocks.

    Economically, this means if Nigeria can have a concentrated number of active social media users on Koo, more revenue will be generated into the country’s purse..

    Of the technological benefits, Twitter ban and the presence of Koo has revitalised Nigeria’s possibility of developing and exploring home-grown social media platforms that are basically Nigerian and capable of challenging the monopoly and hegemony of US-owned social media tech giants.

    In India, Koo came in as a tool of revolt. It was initially fashioned in a user-friendly mode with an  interactive interface to “deal with Twitter excess.” Now, it is a strong competitor, technically performing the same role. By the time the Indian government removes the ban on Twitter, its influence may have whittled down.

    India is the second most populous country in the world after China; Nigeria is the most populous in Africa. So there is a striking similarity between the two nations in terms of numerical strength. If Nigeria can use the avenue of the Twitter ban to create a home-grown alternative, it is going to be a step in the right direction for the country in terms of technological advancement.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • The FactChecker

    Koo: What you should know about Twitter’s rival app

    By Lami Sadiq

    Barely a week after Nigeria’s Government placed an indefinite suspension on the operation of microblogging site, Twitter, the federal government made its debut on an Indian-based social media platform, Koo, which was barely known to many in Nigeria. 

    With the announcement of the government’s arrival on the made-in-Indian app by its co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna, the yellow bird app is gaining traction among some Nigerians as they seek another source of keeping abreast with information hitherto filled by Twitter. 

    Announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival, Radhakrishna with the Koo handle (@aprameya) posted an official handle of the Nigerian government with a smiling emoji sign. “The official handle of the government of Nigeria is now on Koo,” he posted.

    Screengrab of Koo co-founder, Aprameya Radhakrishna (@aprameya) announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival on the platform

    What is Koo App? 

    Koo is a micro-blogging platform which was developed by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in March 2020 but was floated in May of the same year. The app won the Aatmanirbhar App Challenge organized by the Indian government in August 2020. It has a similar interface with Twitter and its rise is hinged on the stormy path Twitter took with government authorities in India and most recently in Nigeria.

    Like Twitter, Koo can be used to profess views and opinions on various topics as well as allow users to follow other users, conduct polls, share photos, audio and video with a Direct Message (DM) to facilitate chat with each other. It also allows users to place their posts with hashtags and the @ sign also comes before a username, to mention or reply to other users. Koo uses a yellow and white interface and like the blue-bird app, a verified account is given a yellow tick to indicate its authenticity.

    A check on Google Play Store shows it has been downloaded over 5 million times. Apart from English, the application features some local languages spoken in India such as, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. However, the co-founder and CEO, Aprameya wrote on the microblogging app that: “Koo is available in Nieria. We’re thinking of enabling the local languages there too. What say?

    Continue reading here

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    Tip Of The Week

    #FakeNewsAlert

    There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

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    SOURCE: WhatsApp Message

    Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Which credible news platform has published this? Did LASTMA actually initiate the message?

    What you should do: Verify before sharing. 

    Other Fact Checks

  • Koo: What you should know about Twitter’s rival app

    Barely a week after Nigeria’s Government placed an indefinite suspension on the operation of microblogging site, Twitter, the federal government made its debut on an Indian-based social media platform, Koo, which was barely known to many in Nigeria. 

    With the announcement of the government’s arrival on the made-in-Indian app by its co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna, the yellow bird app is gaining traction among some Nigerians as they seek another source of keeping abreast with information hitherto filled by Twitter. 

    Announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival, Radhakrishna with the Koo handle (@aprameya) posted an official handle of the Nigerian government with a smiling emoji sign. “The official handle of the government of Nigeria is now on Koo,” he posted.

    Screen grab of Koo co-founder, Aprameya Radhakrishna (@aprameya) announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival on the platform

    What is Koo App? 

    Koo is a micro-blogging platform which was developed by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in March 2020 but was floated in May of the same year. The app won the Aatmanirbhar App Challenge organized by the Indian government in August 2020. It has a similar interface with Twitter and its rise is hinged on the stormy path Twitter took with government authorities in India and most recently in Nigeria.

    Like Twitter, Koo can be used to profess views and opinions on various topics as well as allow users to follow other users, conduct polls, share photos, audio and video with a Direct Message (DM) to facilitate chat with each other. It also allows users to place their posts with hashtags and the @ sign also comes before a username, to mention or reply to other users. Koo uses a yellow and white interface and like the blue-bird app, a verified account is given a yellow tick to indicate its authenticity.

    A check on Google Play Store shows it has been downloaded over 5 million times. Apart from English, the application features some local languages spoken in India such as, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. However, the co-founder and CEO, Aprameya wrote on the microblogging app that: “Koo is available in Nieria. We’re thinking of enabling the local languages there too. What say?”

    A screen grab showing the app has been downloaded over 5 million times on Google Play Store 

    How it rose to prominence

    In an interview with Financial Express online, the co-founders of the microblogging app said they initiated the app to give a voice to everybody in India and chose the yellow bird to symbolise a happy bird spreading good messages among the community in India. 

    The rise of Koo is however credited to not only its winning of the Indian government’s Atma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge but a row between Twitter and the Government of India in which a show of supremacy led to government officials dumping twitter for the new app. Since then, Koo has seen a surge in usage. Its fortunes also increased following another standoff between Twitter and the Nigeria government with the later suspending access to the microblog in the country on June 5, 2021. Koo’s similarity with Twitter has made netizens in Nigeria crave for a platform to garner information on-the-go switch alliance. “The Nigerian government’s decision to join Koo after banning Twitter reinforces its position as an alternative platform to Twitter,” says Pranav Mukul, an Indian journalist with the Indian Express. With its newfound fame, Koo announced a $30 million fundraise from marquee investors including Tiger Global at a time Indian authorities were turning the heat on Twitter. The fund-raise saw Koo’s valuation jump nearly five-fold to $100 million.

    Who is on the Koo app?

    Since the Nigerian government joined the app with a verified handle @nigeriagov, other Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari with a verified handle (@muhammadubuhari) and his Personal Assistant on Digital and New Media, Bashir Ahmad have joined. A Koo handle claiming to be that of the First Lady Aisha Buhari (@A_Buhrari) has equally suffaced. Activist and former Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani (@Sen.shehuSani) have been active on the platform as well as Kanywood celebrities such as Hadiza Gabon (@Hadiza_Aliyu) and Rahama Sadau (@Rahama).

    A verified Koo handle of President Muhammadu Buhari (@muhammadubuhari)

    Will the new app solve FG’s headache?

    The Nigerian Government had accused Twitter for churning out fake news and hate speech on its platform with the site not taking any action. In response to the platform deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had accused Twitter of double standards and allowing it to be used to undermine the country’s corporate existence. With the recent migration of the Nigerian government to Koo, it is uncertain if the government can still checkmate fake news and hate speech in the new platform. However, when asked about fake news the co-founders said: “This is one of those topics that falls in the grey area. A lot of policies are yet to be put in place as far as social media is concerned. Because unlike publishers, this is not curated content. If this was a simple question, we won’t be discussing it. We would have answers for it. The global platform would have had answers for it. We are dealing with social media, which means we are dealing with a space where people have the freedom to express themselves and there will be unscrupulous elements which will plug in some sort of fake news on a platform waiting for it to explode.”

    They were optimistic that it can be tackled by service providers going to the source of the news and trying to figure out where it came from. Commenting on hate that has become the bane of the World Wide Web, they said that since the company is registered and bound by law, it will ensure a healthy conversation, and that is what the app stands for.

    The researcher produced this article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Twitter did not ban Buhari as claimed in Trump’s viral statement

    Claim: The former President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a congratulatory message to Nigeria over the recent Twitter ban, claimed Twitter banned President Muhammadu Buhari.

    Twitter didn’t ban President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter only removed a post made by the President.

    Full Story

    On Friday, June 4, 2021, the Nigerian government suspended the operations indefinitely in the country the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

    The suspension came days after Twitter deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari where he had condemned the attacks on police stations, prisons and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the South-East, warning that those supporting insurrection and violence in the country would be “treated in the language they understand.”

    The tweet reads: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

    This suspension has brought about a lot of reaction from Nigerians and also the international community.

    On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, in a statement, congratulated Nigeria for banning the operations of Twitter in the country. Trump also encouraged more countries to do the same.

    Trump, in his statement, claimed Twitter banned President Muhammadu Buhari.

    He wrote: “Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President. More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech – all voices should be heard.

    “In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil?

    “Perhaps, I should have done it while I was President. But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was.”

    It can be recalled that in January 2021, Twitter and Facebook suspended the accounts of Donald Trump, following the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill. The platforms claim he mobilised his followers to invade Capitol Hill over the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election after he lost.

    A screenshot of Donald Trump’s statement 

    Verification 

    Dubawa started by checking the official Twitter handle of President Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) to see if his account has been banned or deactivated but found nothing of such.

    Also, he is still recognised as Nigeria’s President as stated on his bio in the verified handle. As of Wednesday, June 9, the President’s account is active with 4.1 million followers.

    Further checks showed that his last tweet was on June 1 and all is still intact except for his controversial post which was removed.

    Twitter’s policy on ban

    Twitter has some rules and policies to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely. 

    A Twitter user can be banned or permanently suspended if found guilty of the risk of further incitement of violence.

    For instance, the former president, Donald Trump, was banned on Twitter, following his tweet which led to the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

    Twitter, in a press release, explaining why Trump was banned, said: “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

    According to Twitter, when a user is removed from the platform, such user is permanently removed no matter the position such user holds in the public.

    Twitter’s chief financial officer, Ned Segal, in an interview on CNBC after Trump was banned, reiterated that Twitter has policies in place to “make sure that people are not inciting violence” and, if someone’s content does that, they will be removed from the platform.

    “When you are removed from the platform, you are removed from the platform, whether you are a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official, he said.

    In President Buhari’s case, he violated Twitter’s “abusive behavior” policy which led to the removal of the post and suspension of his account for 12 hours. The consequence of violating this rule is linked to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the severity of the violation and an individual’s previous record of rule violations. 

    In twitter’s judgement, Buhari has not done what could warrant a ban, hence, his account was not removed from the platform.

    A screenshot of President Buhari’s Twitter account

    Conclusion

    The claim by the former president of the United States is false. Twitter didn’t ban President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter only removed a post made by the President.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with The Nigerian Tribune to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • The FactChecker

    How Nigeria’s ex-lawmaker spread falsehood on COVID-19 vaccine, mislead followers

    By Kemi Busari

    To many Nigerians, Dino Melaye is a man of several talents – a vocal politician, activist in early years and author of a book. Outside politics, the former senator’s skills in singing and dancing, which he deploys in his political battles, arguably endear him to Nigerians the most.

    In one of his ‘hit songs’ popularly titled ‘ajekun iya’, Mr Melaye was seen dancing and singing after a senate committee acquitted him in an alleged case of certificate forgery. In several others, he would mock his political opponents, and sometimes praise God for victories.

    With this mix of talent and a political career constantly laced with controversies, the former lawmaker who represented his people at both the House of Representatives and the Senate, constantly engages his millions of followers on the social media, especially on Twitter.

    This engagement took a new life in 2020 when Mr Melaye started tweeting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning from late 2020, he has released a series of tweets on vaccination against the novel coronavirus, mostly untrue.

    Using the ‘tweet content’ feature on Tweet Deck and a keyword search of ‘COVID-19’ and ‘vaccine’, over a dozen tweets containing purported factual information on vaccination were traced to Mr Melaye.

    An analysis of the reach and effect of some of his tweets shows that through millions of primary reach and thousands of reproduction, Mr Melaye’s conjectural tweets on vaccination have real life effects. With over two million Twitter followers, even at the time the virus was detected, Mr Melaye’s words were words of authority to many. Only a few Nigerian politicians have more followers.

    First, we take a look at the tweets and their metrics.

    Fact-checkers’ treasure trove

    On December 31, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use against the virus. Two weeks earlier, Mr Melaye had put out a video on Twitter to advise his followers on the expected vaccine. Way Back Machine only crawled on Mr Melaye’s Twitter page once in 2020. By then (December 16, 2020), he had about 2.55 million followers.

    Continue reading here

    Fact Checks of the week

    On June 1, 2021, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, received a briefing from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, at the Statehouse in Abuja. Yakubu had come to brief the president on a series of attacks on facilities of the electoral body across the country…

    A press release has been circulating on social media platforms, especially WhatsApp and Facebook in the morning hours of Friday June 4th 2021 that the president has ordered for the reduction in prices for a bag of rice….

    Earlier in May, Nigeria’s Army Chief, Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, was killed alongside 10 other officers in a plane crash in Kaduna State. This led to several claims including the claim that 11 persons survived the crash…

    Tip Of The Week

    #FakeNewsAlert

    There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

    CLAIM: A viral Twitter screenshot with the inscription of the “Twitter Public Policy” claims Twitter is apologetic for the recent action it took against President Buhari’s tweet. 

    SOURCE: WhatsApp, blogs and Twitter

    A viral screenshot of a tweet bearing the inscription of the ‘Twitter Public Policy’ handle, appeared online with a rather new narrative that seems to suggest Twitter’s desire to apologise and mend things with the Nigerian Government.  But how true?

    While screenshots of social media handles have served as great evidence in the past, it is now imperative that you still check the user’s handle to check if it’s really there or not. Fake Screenshots is the new misinformer!!!

    Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Which credible news platform has published this?? Is the screenshot still on the user’s handle?

    What you should do: Verify before sharing. 

    Other Fact Checks

  • Yes! Crowwe App’s Terms and Conditions largely copied from Spotify

    Claim: A Twitter user claims that the terms and conditions of the Crowwe application are the same with those of Spotify.

    The claim that Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions were copied from Spotify is TRUE as findings reveal similarities. Also, the link found in Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions redirects users to Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use.

    Full Text

    Amid the recent announcement of Twitter ban by the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria, former Nigerian presidential candidate, Adamu Garba, has named the  Crowwe application as the alternative to the microblogging website.

    In a statement on Friday, the federal government placed a ban on Twitter, saying the application undermines Nigeria’s corporate existence. This ban was greeted with outrage by Nigerians who felt the government had acted against the constitution which guaranteed freedom of expression.

    While some have devised other means of accessing Twitter, Adamu Garba, trended from Friday, the notion that the Crowwe application, could be an alternative.

    However, Twitter users have criticised the application on many grounds including its privacy policy. One other major criticism is the similarity of the terms and conditions with those of Spotify, a music streaming platform. 

    A Twitter user, Ego Beke (@rubylaren) wrote that the terms and conditions of the Crowwe App are the same with Spotify.

    “Check the Crowwe app’s terms and conditions. It’s the SAME thing as Spotify. They didn’t even bother editing. Like if you click on the hyperlink it redirects you to Spotify theft. What sort of pangolo app is that?”

    Excerpt of Ego Beke’s claim.

    Screenshot of ego Beke’s Twitter post.

    Another Twitter user Bukola (@bukiola) made the same claim with a 15-second video showing how a click on the terms and condition of the App leads to spotify’s page.

    Screenshot of Bukola’s Twitter post.

    Also on Saturday June 6, 2021, a Twitter post by Tayo Dips (@tayo_dips) reported the Crowwe App to Spotify for copying it’s Terms and Conditions and also called for a lawsuit against Crowwe for plagiarism.

    “Hi @Spotify I’d like to report an intellectual property theft. The app @CrowweApp (Gloome Business Connections Ltd) made an authorised copy of your terms & conditions, WORD for WORD, uploading it on App Stores.

    I think you should file a lawsuit for infringing copyright.”

    Excerpt of the Twitter post

    Screenshot of the Twitter post.

    Verification 

    To verify these claims, Dubawa downloaded the Crowwe App on Google PlayStore, to get details about its terms and conditions.

    After downloading, Dubawa was greeted with a landing page, which directed users to read and accept the App’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Services. It says: “Read our Privacy Policy. Tap Agree and Continue to accept the Terms of Services.

    Crowwe App’s landing page

    Reading through the platform’s Terms of Services, Dubawa observed that a link to the terms and conditions listed, redirected users to the Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use

    Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions

    This suggests that Crowwe’s Terms of Service were copied and edited from Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use. It appears the owners or developers of the Crowwe App must have forgotten to delete the Spotify hyperlink.

    Dubawa also observed that although they had been edited, many items on Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions such as its Limitation on Liability and Disclaimer of Warranties, bear similarities with items on Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use.

    A link in Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions redirects users to Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use

    Why Spotify, a Swedish music service launched in 2008, and the Crowwe app launched in 2020 are linked with so many similarities in their T and C, is a cause for concern, seeing their functions do not even align.

    Terms and Conditions of an App

    A Terms and Conditions agreement, also known as a T&C, Terms of Use or Terms of Service, is the legal backbone of the relationship between a mobile app and its users.

    This lists clauses that highlight the rules, requirements, restrictions and limitations that a user must agree to in order to use the mobile App.

    A Terms and Conditions is not mandatory like the Privacy policy under any laws or required by any app stores.

    Why Terms and Conditions?

    Terms and Conditions is beneficial to the business that owns the App and to the users.

    Here are some of these benefits for businesses:

    • You will be protected against abuses by users, such as copyright infringement, spamming of other users, and general misuse of your app
    • You can require arbitration over litigation, and even select the governing law to be used in the event of a legal issue
    • You maintain the right to terminate user’s accounts at any time you may need or want to
    • Your liability to users will be limited

    To enjoy the above benefits, specific clauses and the demand for users to agree to be bound by them should be made and clearly stated, so that it can be enforced where necessary.

    For the user, here are some of the benefits:

    • Users will get an explanation of their rights, rules they must follow, and what they can expect when using your app.
    • Helps users understand what is expected of them by explaining things like how payments must be made, what a user must refrain from doing, and how to reach customer support with any concerns or for assistance.

    How to develop T and Cs 

    T&Cs can be developed by the owner of the business, a lawyer or using that of others as models or templates but this must be customized to suit your business, product or service.

    There are also websites that help you generate templates like Tertempla’s terms and conditions generator, which makes it easy to create a Terms and Conditions agreement for your business. 

    What does copying another business’s T & C mean?

    Because T&C agreements are often complex, copying or borrowing another entity’s agreement is very tempting to save time and costs. Borrowing another’s T&C is common and generally legal, but doing so exposes your company to legal risks. One risk is that copying an agreement word-for-word is plagiarism and a violation of copyright law

    Although business terms and conditions may not be the most creative pieces, they still fall under the definition of literary works and as such are protected in law.

    Also, if you copy the T & C agreement of another business it is likely that differences in location, policies, and other areas can prevent their T&C from actually being effective.

    Conclusion

    The claim that Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions were copied from Spotify is TRUE as findings reveal that the link in Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions redirects to Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use.

    Also, some items in the Crowwe’s Terms and Conditions bear similarities with items on Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use.

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