On Thursday evening, we got a last minute email. Jack Dorsey, the mercurial man behind the social media platform preferred by presidents was making a surprise visit to Lagos and wanted to meet everyone. Since Dorsey introduced his platform in 2006, it has been the preferred platform for upwardly mobile, socially conscious Nigerians looking to challenge the status quo, educate themselves and find their tribes. We have even grown to have our own, internationally recognized corner of the Twittersphere, aptly called ‘Nigerian Twitter’, notorious for its misogyny (remember the flaying of Reno Omokri) and golden, niche specific trends like #NigeriansInHogwarts.
Considering Nigerian elections were won and lost on Twitter, long before Donald Trump turned it into his own unfiltered mouthpiece, it is a little late for Jack to be visiting Nigeria now. But better late than never. After a little faux pas pissing off press on the morning of his arrival, Jack has had a pretty interesting weekend in Nigeria. His team had a town hall at TechPoint.ng, the country’s most progressive tech journalism platform (shout out to Victor Ekwealor) and answered some very tailored questions about the present and future of Twitter. There was also the very feel good on-the-spot hiring of Dara Tobi, the Nigerian developer, who understanding our collective obsession with gist, created the @QuotedReplies, twitter bot that aggregates quoted replies on a tweet for the perusal of the reading public.
What was worrying though, is that Jack had no user-facing events during his entire time here. Tech people are great, but ultimately Twitter is a user based platform and Jack’s refusal or inability to interact with the people whose continued engagement with his platform has kept it afloat worries. Especially with the current rash of political bots who have attacked many an election, Twitter atrocious bungling of its attempts to enter the advertising business and its targeting of influencers on the platform as a way to force businesses trying to advertise on the platform to use Twitter for Business.
Twitter head of communications has suggested that this is the first of many trips to Nigeria for Jack, we hope next time he does more than sample Jollof rice.