Are We Witnessing The Collapse of Twitter?
Twitter has been a great platform of convenience, especially for African users. But since its acquisition by Elon Musk, a number of users have been contemplating a mass exodus and competitor platforms have been emerging everywhere. While the majority focus for all competitor platforms has mainly been users in the West, it’s important for us to ask as African users: will the death of Twitter include us too?
Since its inception in 2006, Twitter has been a platform of convenience for users on the African continent whose voices had previously not been heard or even considered. It facilitated a way for an everyday user of Twitter in the African context to speak to a wide audience and even facilitate movement building.
Through Twitter, Africans could be united for a single cause, which was to dismantle the misguided narratives of Africa as a homogenous, violent, ‘country,’ a jungle, or a poverty-stricken continent; views still widely held by Western giant media outlets.
Twitter has also allowed for the mobilisation of people who shared a similar culture (#KOT, #IfAfricaWasABar), or who were involved in similar struggles/conditions (Endsars) in ways not previously possible. Countries such as Zimbabwe had their first influencers from Twitter and the platform enabled countries with freedom of speech but not freedom after speech to speak out, effecting real change within African Countries (#Zimshutdown, #twimbos).
trending hashtags such as #RIPTwitter in anticipation or observation that the old Twitter as we have known it is dying.
TweetDeck, twitter’s dashboard which allowed users to schedule posts and track engagement with ease also recently suffered outages following tweet view limits on all accounts, and was followed by an announcement by Musk that the previously free platform was now going to be a privilege for Twitter blue subscribers by end of July. This means that those without funds to subscribe to Twitter Blue will no longer be able to use the important Twitter tool.
Other similar platforms such as Mastodon, Bluesky, and Truth Social have been getting a record number of subscribed users, presumably from Twitter, as they abandon the dying platform. However, given the rich history, connections, and usability that Twitter previously gave to us, can we really afford (no pun intended) to leave the platform?
Most of these legacy social media platforms - and their new rivals - were not designed with the African user in mind. It has only taken the resilience of African people to adopt these platforms and use them in the way that suited their needs, which might also explain the loyalty that African people have for the social platforms they use.
Given that context, will we be seeing African people leaving Twitter in their droves too in favour of its emerging rivals?? And will the usability of these other social platforms still serve the same purpose as Twitter? Or will this signal the collapse of African voices in global conversations?
Assuming that the majority of users in the West leave Twitter, will the platform survive without its main revenue base? Or will it eventually shut down?
These questions might be answered as more developments unfold, but one fact remains. The collapse of Twitter will be a great loss to the users of the African continent who, due to reasons such as the digital divide and platform relevance, might not necessarily be able to migrate to other platforms.