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New Twitter Feature Allows Users Customize Who Can See Tweets

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Twitter announced on Tuesday that it is testing a new feature that will allow users to control who can see their tweets. Twitter Circle, a new feature, allows users to create a list of up to 150 people and then post tweets that are only visible to those in the group, similar to Instagram’s Close Friends feature.

Last month, the company also announced that it will test an editing function on Twitter Blue, a premium subscription version of the platform, later this year. Users can already undo tweets in the premium tier, but the ability to edit a previously posted tweet would be novel.

While the editing function test is only available to Twitter Blue members, it appears that Twitter Circle testing is available to a limited number of users on both the standard and premium versions. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the company is “currently testing Twitter Circle with a small group of people on Twitter globally,” as stated in an earlier tweet from @twittersafety.

The announcement of the Twitter Circle feature and testing comes after Elon Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion last week. Given the timing of the Twitter Circle test, Musk’s takeover bid is unlikely to have influenced the release of the new test.

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Twitter rolls out new feature for creators to host Super Follows-only Spaces

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Twitter has announced the launch of Super Follows-only Spaces. Creators who offer Super Follows subscriptions can now host Spaces for their subscribers only. According to Twitter, this new option will allow creators to “offer an extra layer of conversation to their biggest supporters.”

Subscribers on iOS and Android will be able to join and request to speak in Super Follows-only Spaces, whereas those on Twitter’s web platform will be able to join and listen but will not be able to request to speak. When creating a new Space, creators can choose the “Only Super Followers can join” option. Users who do not Super Follow a creator will see the Space but will not be able to access it unless they subscribe.

It’s important to note that the new Spaces feature isn’t the only way for creators to hold exclusive Spaces. Twitter, for example, launched its Ticketed Spaces feature last year to allow creators to charge users a fee to listen in on a Space. Creators can set their ticket price anywhere between $1 and $999 and limit the number of tickets sold.

Super Follows, which was first revealed in February 2021, allows users to pay a monthly subscription fee to subscribe to accounts they like in exchange for exclusive content. Super Follows is currently in beta testing on iOS with a select group of creators in the United States. Eligible accounts have the option of charging $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 for Super Follow subscriptions.

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Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal Clash Over Bot-fighting Metrics

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We already know that Twitter is rife with bots. But how full is it, and what kinds of bots are there? With estimates ranging from Twitter’s own “under 5%” to independent researchers claiming 20% or higher, it’s clear that it’s a difficult number to pin down, as the company’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, explained in a thread today. Elon Musk, a potential buyer, responded with a poo emoji.

Agrawal stated that spam and bots are serious issues that all social media platforms face, and that they are also evolving and “dynamic.” “Our adversaries, their goals, and tactics are constantly evolving — frequently in response to our work!” You can’t create a set of spam-detection rules today and hope they’ll still work tomorrow.”

The problem of determining whether an account is automated, semi-human, benign, violating, and so on is not trivial, yet millions of accounts are actioned in some way, and, as with other platforms, usually before they do anything.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Topship Raises $2.5 Million in Funding from Flexport and YC to Assist Merchants With International Shipping.

One reason it’s difficult to tell whether an account is “real” or not, depending on what definition of “real” you use, is that there’s only so much information available publicly. According to Agrawal, “the use of private data is especially important to avoid misclassifying users who are actually real.” FirstnameBunchOfNumbers with no profile pic and odd tweets may appear to be a bot or spam to you, but we often see multiple indicators that it’s a real person behind the scenes.”

By “private data,” he most likely means things like direct message activity, logins, and browsing behavior that are invisible to outsiders but visible to internal systems. Many Twitter users interact with the platform in a quiet manner, and who can blame them?

This is advantageous for Twitter because no one can verify the numbers it publishes. Though there is little reason to believe the company is outright fabricating or doctoring the numbers here, it is undeniable that they have the motive and opportunity to do so in subtle ways that would only be visible to an auditor who has access to the same data as they do.

The issue of user authenticity, of course, is central to a social media platform’s reach and ability to monetize, and we’ve seen time and again that falsifying or misrepresenting these numbers can have serious consequences for advertisers and premium service subscribers’ willingness to pay.

Or, as billionaire and Twitter hopeful Elon Musk put it: “💩”

“So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money?” he asks. This is critical to Twitter’s financial health,” is perplexing. As someone ostensibly interested in starting a social media company, it’s difficult to believe he wouldn’t have done some basic research on the metrics that the industry uses to track these things. After all, as Agrawal points out, these figures have been reported on a regular basis for quite some time.

It’s not that the question is bad; it’s just odd that he would ask it now, after making a very risky buyout offer for the business — a business of which he appears to be unfamiliar with the fundamentals. Companies that monetize engagement, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, have been defining and redefining “how advertisers know what they’re getting for their money” for over a decade.

Of course, there has long been a famous disconnect between advertising and results — the old “half works and half doesn’t, but no one knows which half is which” conundrum.

The most pressing question here does not appear to be, “How do we know engagement is genuine?” but rather, why has Elon Musk only recently begun investigating this? It’s akin to purchasing a horse and then looking up the word “horse” in the dictionary. The apparent lack of familiarity not only with the complexities of Twitter, but also with the way the social media ad market and authenticity metrics are defined and handled in general will undoubtedly add to the concerns of those who believe Musk is not the best person to lead the company.

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Nigeria’s Topship Raises $2.5 Million in Funding from Flexport and YC to Assist Merchants With International Shipping.

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When it comes to international shipping, African merchants face numerous challenges, ranging from logistics and customs to hidden and excessive charges.

To address these supply chain issues, the continent’s digital freight forwarders have grown. In some ways, they resemble Flexport, a $8 billion company and market leader in the freight space; some have dubbed themselves the “Flexport for Africa.”

Topship, a recent YC graduate, is one such startup that has raised a $2.5 million seed round months after finishing the most recent YC winter batch. Flexport is the company’s primary investor. Y Combinator, Soma Capital, Starling Ventures, Olive Tree Capital, Capital X, and True Capital are among the other investors. Individual investors in the round include Mercury CEO Immad Akhund and Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi.

Topship was founded in 2020, during the pandemic, after co-founder and CEO Moses Enenwali noticed an increase in merchants’ needs for shipping parcels and cargo outside of Nigeria. Following his time with logistics company ACE Logistics and e-commerce fulfilment provider Sendbox, he had developed relationships with these merchants. Despite the fact that demand was consistent during his time with both companies from 2015 to 2020.

“The world was closing down, but there was this high demand for things, and demand for international shipping was increasing at the same time.” “This is interesting,” I thought. “It wasn’t a business back then because we just helped these people move stuff like a scrappy, little hustle,” Enenwali explained.

Topship CEO Moses Enenwali

Globally, approximately 60% of air cargo is flown in the belly hold of passenger flights, which is one reason why, to some extent, air shipping businesses are easier to start than sea shipping businesses. It made even more sense for Enenwali to take this route because passenger planes flew half empty for the majority of 2020. Topship went live in March 2021 after months of iteration, with Junaid Babatunde as CTO.

Topship claims to want to make it as simple as possible for African businesses to export and import parcels and cargo to their customers, suppliers, and distributors around the world. The company, along with competitors like Sote, SEND, and OnePort365, aims to improve the overall shipping experience in Africa. Topship, on the other hand, has high expectations; the company stated in a statement that “its mission is to make the shipping experience in Africa as easy and stress-free as booking an Uber ride.” And one factor that may work in its favor is its emphasis on air cargo, even as others investigate the Flexport-pioneered combination of air, sea, and truck haulage.

While African startups, including his, have taken some cues from Flexport’s playbook, CEO Enenwali believes Africa isn’t ready for the unicorn’s model, which is heavily reliant on sea cargo movement.

“The Flexport model would not work here because it is heavily invested in ocean freight and there aren’t enough ports on the continent.” For example, in Nigeria, we only have one function port, and in order for ocean freight to work, we need ports, railways, and trucking roads. “But we don’t have roads, and we don’t have railways,” said the CEO, explaining why Topship does not handle sea cargo.

“Connecting the continent with ocean freight is difficult.” Even with their aggressive approach to problems, Flexport’s business model makes a lot of sense. However, for Africa, we must modify it to fit the local use case. As we’ve seen, the only way to connect the continent is by air. Every country and major city on the continent has an airport, and airlines fly to all of them on a daily basis.”

Topship serves a diverse range of users. Topship is a borderline local and international shipping solution between digital freight and e-commerce fulfilment, from a merchant moving tons of heavy equipment and a solo entrepreneur sending parcels to a student mailing documents to a school abroad and a Gen Z shopping from a foreign store. Flexport has invested in several African startups in both categories, including Trella, Flextock, ShipBlu, Sendbox, and Freeterium.

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