By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 after a democratic Referendum on Unity with the Sudan or Secession (Independence) garnered over 98% results in favour of Secession. The Country was immediately recognized as a Sovereign Republic by the United Nations, African Union, and several other bodies in the region and beyond.
I’m not an expert in technology, however, in this article, I’m raising questions on how South Sudan is being treated when it comes to technology and social media despite gaining Independence over eight years ago.
This article gives specific attention to Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo email.
On Facebook’s Profile accounts, the section of “Current City and Home Town” does not include almost all of South Sudan town and areas as in South Sudan.
South Sudan’s Capital city is recognized as “Juba, Sudan” instead of Juba, South Sudan.
Bor, Torit are all recognized as in Sudan, instead of South Sudan. Yambio, Malakal, Bentiu and Rumbek are mentioned independently without including which Country they are in.
Meanwhile, in one option, Wau is mentioned as “Wau, Sudan” and in another, the town is mentioned as “Wau Wau, Bahr Al Ghazal, South Sudan”.
The same categorizations happen with the rest of South Sudan towns and other areas, the Country South Sudan is not mentioned.
Why despite South Sudan gained independence several years ago?
On creating a Page on Facebook, on Page info, South Sudan’s Country Code + 211 is recognized on the Phone Number’s section. Also on creating an Ad to promote a page, on the audience one targets, South Sudan as a Country is available.
While on creating an Ad to promote a page, on the audience one targets: Juba the Capital of South Sudan is listed as “Juba, Sudan, Equatoria, South Sudan”
So, how will that work since South Sudan as a country is not recognized for accounts on Facebook since their “Current City and Home Town” are listed as in former Country Sudan?
If you go to “Settings and Privacy” on “Data and Permission,” the list of Countries there (Country you live in) does not include South Sudan.
Twitter wrote on their website that: “Your Twitter account is associated with the country you live in. Your country helps us to customize your Twitter experience, and may affect the content we are able to display. Your country also helps Twitter know that you’re old enough to use our services in your country.”
What about Countries like South Sudan that are not available on the list of Countries (Country you live in) on the “Data and Permission” category?
Twitter further wrote:
“When you access Twitter, we may receive information about your location, such as your IP address, precise location information from GPS, or information about wireless networks or cell towers near your mobile device. We use information about your location to determine the country setting for your account, based on the countries where we make our services available. If we are unable to successfully resolve your location to one of these countries, it will be set to the United States by default.”
So, is South Sudan among the countries where Twitter do not make their services available? If so, why?
For many South Sudanese, including myself, it has become the norm to list any neighbouring Country as the country one lives in even if one is in South Sudan (our Country) because our Country is not recognized on twitter.
Also, while making an ad on Twitter, South Sudan is not among the locations in the list for inclusion.
When and how will all these change?
As for Yahoo emails, they do not recognize South Sudan also. On the list of Country Codes available for insertion, while inserting a phone number, South Sudan is not among those available in Yahoo emails.
This has been problematic since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan and got its own Country Code. Many South Sudanese who live in South Sudan lost their Yahoo accounts, or are unable to comply with the two-step verification since their phone numbers (codes) cannot be inserted. As a result, they have become too vulnerable using Yahoo email accounts. Some have decided to quit yahoo altogether.
Why doesn’t Yahoo recognizes South Sudan Country code?
In conclusion, it is worth pointing out that due to the above challenges, there are extremely few accounts in South Sudan, if any, that have been verified with the Facebook and Twitter badges.
So I ask again: why Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo do not recognize South Sudan even when Google Maps recognizes the young country?
Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist is a former Editor-in-Chief of Radio Bakhita and Managing Editor of Juba Monitor Newspaper. He previously worked for, among other media houses, The Citizen Newspaper and freelance for The Nation Mirror Newspaper. He has a background in law. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or his twitter handle @RogerYoronModi