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Thu, 22 Jun 2017
Why #SocialMediaBlackout failed and trended instead.

A planned protest against the high cost of data crashed spectacularly when it became a trending topic on Twitter.  The protest asked South Africans to do away with social media today under the hashtag #SocialMediaBlackout, but contradicted its purpose by becoming a top trend on a day meant to encourage users to boycott social networks.

Yesterday morning poet Ntsiki Mazwai’s called on South Africans to not buy data and not to log in to their social profiles, in an attempt to put pressure on cellphone providers such as Vodacom, MTN and Cell C to lower their data costs.

Internet analyst and expert, Arthur Goldstuck told Fin24 the fact that #SocialMediaBlackout trended made it apparent that the campaign had fallen short. “But in one respect the trend has highlighted the consumers’ frustration in dealing with the high cost of data.”

He ran a poll from his Twitter account, on the day of the blackout, asking: “Are you joining the #SocialMediaBlackout today? Yes, no, or haven’t heard of it? Please choose one option below.” In three hours 47% of respondents said “I am not joining in”, 45% answered “I haven’t heard of it” and 8% indicated that “I am joining in”.

Goldstuck believed Another reason that led to the campaign’s failure, is the lack of preparation time beforehand. “A campaign like this normally takes weeks to prepare for whereas this campaign was attempted the day after on very short notice.”

He added that the campaign was not geared correctly to have maximum impact.



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Thu, 22 Jun 2017
Twitter eyes SA growth with Lite app.

Twitter is eyeing its Lite application to grow in South Africa to mitigate the cost of data.

In an exclusive interview with Fin24, Twitter senior director Barry Collins said that the company has observed high growth of its service in SA, and is excited about the launch of its lower data application.

“Twitter Lite is clearly a great solution for many parts of Africa today. While we see very strong smartphone usage of Twitter in South Africa, we do expect that large groups of new users will utilise the Twitter Lite client before migrating to the full experiences as more advanced mobile technologies becomes available to them,” Collins said.

The launch of Twitter Lite follows other social networks which have launched low-bandwidth applications to counter the high cost of data in SA specifically, and Africa in general.

Facebook also has a “Lite” application and Google typically hosts popular videos locally to save on bandwidth and increase performance. The search giant also makes a low bandwidth-friendly Gmail application and allows Maps users to save local areas for offline use. Cape storms and Knysna fires

Platforms like Twitter are seeing increasing adoption, especially during times of regional crisis.

During the recent Cape storms and Knysna fires, many users took to Twitter and Facebook to tell friends and family that they were safe or to indicate areas where the fires or storm had caused damage.

“Twitter is both a unique service for our users and a multi-billion dollar revenue business. We are making sure that we are building something that people want to use every single day and that they value every single day. We are proving that we are doing that with the growth numbers we have been sharing in our earnings,” said Collins.

The company is intent on delivering return on investment for advertisers, and Twitter users would notice that advertising has crept into the timeline.

User growth has increased from 319 to 328 million in the first three months of 2017, and Collins said the company is also focused on delivering increased live streaming.

“Our audience continues to grow in all our major markets globally with accelerating momentum. As of the end of Q1 17, daily active usage (DAU) increased 14% year-over-year, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of accelerating growth. Monthly active usage (MAU) also increased 9 million quarter-over-quarter, reaching 328 million.”

But that user growth has not translated into growth for the share price.


Twitter’s share price peaked at $69 in January 2014, and as of Monday, the company was trading at $16.91 – it’s been stuck in the $15-$20 range for the last three months.

Reuters reported in April that revenue fell 7.8% to $548.3m, the first drop since the company’s initial public offering.

Collins trumpeted the Twitter’s ability to be a “news first” platform.

“We are focused on making sure that when you go to Twitter you see what is going on faster than any other service. And as we get better and better, Twitter should be the place that you hear about things first across the world.

“Over 70% of Twitter users are outside of the US and [...]

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Wed, 21 Jun 2017
Social Media Black Out

South Africans fed-up with the high prices charged for data by network providers are encouraged to join the #SocialMediaBlackout campaign, which will take place on June 21.

The campaign, spearheaded by activist Ntsiki Mazwai, urges users to not buy data or make use of any social media platforms on the day, in a bid to force network providers to lower their data prices.

The campaign gained traction online, with users encouraging a boycott as a way to take a stand against the high cost of data.

Speaking of the campaign, Mazwai explained it was formed out of frustration at the high data prices charged in South Africa.

“Our data prices are very high compared to other countries and this is unfair, especially to ordinary, struggling South Africans,” she said.

“Starting this campaign was also a way to put the data debate back on the table and show the unfair competition.”

Mazwai explained that the campaign would run for the next three Wednesdays and would see a “shutdown” take place from 12am-12am.

Should this plan fail to elicit a positive response, Mazwai explained the campaign would be taken further and would see users encouraged to to switch to a network provider that provided data at a cheaper price.

She added anyone was welcome to contribute to the project, adding that it was all about ordinary citizens taking a stand against “classists”.

“We want show corporates our economic power and get them to lower their high data prices permanently,” she said.





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