By Steven JambotPosted on 05-12-2019Modified on 05-12-2019 at 08:56
In April 2019, RFI launched a news feed dedicated to African news broadcast via the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging application . Every morning and evening, 7 days a week, we offered our subscribers links to articles, reports, columns and broadcasts of Radio France International.
This service, free, quickly found its audience: 35,000 people have made the process to follow us, in their vast majority on the African continent (in the order: DRC, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Mali ...). Nearly 5,000 of them, soccer buffs, had even subscribed to specific messages during the last African Cup of Nations.
A unique link created with 35,000 subscribers
Every day, subscriber messages poured in by the hundreds. Often just to say hello, good day, thank you or an answer with a thumbs up emoji to one of our newsletters. Some asked for a link to replay a program. Sometimes we were told technical problems with one of our 114 FM transmitters on the continent. Often we were also asked to check rumors, stop infoxes or confirm information. Conversations with our WhatsApp subscribers gave rise to reports broadcast on our antennas.
This RFI Africa adventure on WhatsApp - yes, we can talk about adventure - has been very rewarding for our media. What has been created is a direct, almost intimate link between African mobile users and "global radio". Including in remote areas where the connection does not always open a web page. Some wanted us to send our articles in full because they only have a phone plan for social networks (sometimes called "WhatsApp package") that does not allow clicking on the links to browse the web.
Facebook master of the game
But then, Facebook, owner of WhatsApp, forced us to end this adventure. Mark Zuckerberg's company believes that WhatsApp is used to exchange between people or groups of people (a group can not exceed 256 members), not to broadcast content more widely. Behind this motivation, the will to "fight against the fake news" on a courier where they abound (see the deadly riots in India , the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil , and the countless false information diffused locally in Africa which we were almost daily reported by our subscribers).
As of Saturday, December 7, therefore, our subscribers will no longer see verified information between two conversations. It saddens us.
We are thinking of the best way to continue the conversation with our subscribers and have decided to give ourselves the time for reflection, strong lessons learned with RFI Africa on WhatsApp. In the meantime, we invite you to stay in touch with us in many ways.
You can subscribe to our newsletters, including one dedicated to Africa, here ► https://emailing.rfi.fr/en/subscribe ,
But also follow us on our social networks Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .
You can also download our mobile RFI applications ( iOS and Android ), to follow all our news, and RFI Pure Radio ( iOS and Android ) real multilingual radio on your phone.
Feel free to let us know your opinion by sending us your comments.
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