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40m Twitter users in Nigeria? Africa Check says it’s probably only 3m

40m Twitter users in Nigeria? Africa Check says it’s probably only 3m
July 25
10:43 2021

No credible data supports the widespread claim that there are 40 million Twitter users in Nigeria, according to a report by Africa Check.

The fact-checking platform said publicly available data shows that the number of Twitter users in Nigeria is around 3 million.

On June 4, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had announced the “indefinite” suspension of Twitter, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

The suspension came days after the microblogging platform deleted a controversial tweet making reference to the Nigerian civil war posted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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On June 5, telecommunications companies in Nigeria blocked access to Twitter following the federal government’s directive.

Despite the blockage, many Nigerians are currently making use of a virtual private network (VPN) to access Twitter.

To assess the effect of the ban on Nigerians, especially individuals and businesses, many international and national media platforms reported that nearly 40 million Twitter users are in Nigeria.

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The media platforms cited a 2019 survey conducted by NOI Polls, a public opinion and research organisation based in Nigeria. The survey reported that “39.6 million Nigerians have a Twitter account”.

The pollster said it interviewed 1,000 phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 and above — and 20 percent of the respondents said ‘yes’ to the use of Twitter.

The 20 percent was then subjected to the National Population Commission’s 2018 estimate of Nigeria’s population as 198 million, leading to the figure of 39.6 million.

What did Africa Check find?

Experts told Africa Check that the pollster’s conclusion and methodology were faulty and cannot be used as the sample for the entire Nigerian population.

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Isiaka Olarewaju, a statistician and former head of household statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), told the fact-checking platform that the survey sample is “a fraction of Nigeria’s population”.

“Going by the methodology, they cannot say 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter. They sampled adults, 18 years and older, which is a fraction of Nigeria’s population,” Olarewaju said.

When the fact-checking platform contacted Twitter to ask about how many users it had in Nigeria, Gareth Field, Twitter’s spokesperson, said: “We do not disclose such information externally.”

To ascertain the number of Twitter users in Nigeria, Africa Check observed Statista’s list of the top 20 counties ranked by Twitter users. It was noted that Malaysia is 20th with 3.4 million active users, which indicates that Nigeria may have fewer than that.

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Africa Check also quoted a 2021 digital report of Hootsuite that estimated that Nigeria has 33 million active social media users. In the report, Twitter is ranked as the country’s sixth most-used platform behind WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.

The report also noted that a Twitter ad in Nigeria has a potential audience of 3.05 million people, adding that the figures “may not represent unique individuals or match the active user base”.

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