Friday, March 04, 2016

Social media in the Middle East - The Times They Are a-Changin'...

by Salman Hameed

Image from The Atlantic

...
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

During the initial phases of the Arab Spring, there was a lot of discussion about the role played by social media in the uprisings. Then came a number of analysis that downplayed its actual impact. Whatever the case, it is clear that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are transforming the youth - be it in the US or in Saudi Arabia. Damian Radcliffe has recently released a report, Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2015 (you can download it from the link). Here are his key findings:
  • Facebook is the Middle East’s most used social network, with 80 million users in the region. The U.S., with 192 million subscribers, has more than double the Facebook users of the whole of the MENA region.
  • Egypt, with 27 million users, has MENA’s largest Facebook population; although with fewer (30.5 percent) than a third of the country’s residents on the network, there remains considerable scope for growth. In contrast, 59.7 percent (192 million) of the U.S. is on Facebook.
  • The next most populous Facebook nations are Saudi Arabia (12 million users, akin to 43.2 percent of the total population) and Iraq (11 million, representing a third of the country’s 33 million residents). In Iraq, where there are also 11 million internet users, Facebook is the Internet for many people. 
  • WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook, is the leading social media platform in Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to Northwestern University in Qatar. Beyond just being an SMS replacement service, WhatsApp groups are used to discuss religion, cooking and the news, as well as being a platform for a growing group of eCommerce entrepeneurs.
  • WhatsApp is also the preferred social media channel for 41 percent of social media users in 20 countries across the region, according to a 2015 study produced by the research agency TNS.
And since we at SSiMS are working on videos related to science and Islam, here are the Damian's findings about videos in the MENA: 
  • MENA is the fastest growing consumer of videos on Facebook. Consumption per head of Facebook embedded videos is twice the global average.
  • Turkey is the second most active country for Periscope streams; and three Turkish cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – are among the top 10 cities with the most Periscope users worldwide. Periscope, the live video streaming app, was launched by Twitter during March 2015.
  • Growth in watch time on YouTube is up over 80 percent year on year in the region, Google data show. After the U.S., MENA enjoys the world’s second-highest online video viewership.
These video stats are incredible! This is one of the reasons we have to look at the impact of online videos. 

Read the full article here

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