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The Arab Social Media Report aims to inform a better understanding of the impact of social media on development and growth in the Arab region by exploring the following questions: • What are the penetration trends of social networking services in the Arab region? What is the growth rate, and what is the demographic and gender breakdown? What factors affect the adoption of these platforms in different Arab countries (e.g., income, youth population, digital access, Internet freedom, etc.)? What is the impact of these phenomena on citizen engagement and social inclusion? What is the impact of the new social networking dynamics on innovation and entrepreneurship?
Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter
Until recently, experts theorized about the promises of social networking technologies, including their ability to influence a participatory governance model, grassroots civic engagement, new social dynamics, inclusive societies and new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. A few months into 2011, there is more evidence suggesting that some of these promises can prove realistic. Today, social media tools have merged online and offline identities, while playing an arguably critical role in dramatic changes sweeping the Arab region. Governments and businesses alike have taken notice of the potential offered by the increased penetration of social networking tools in the Arab region, and new trends in governance and business are emerging. Facebook continues to be the most popular social networking tool in the Arab region, and the inaugural Arab Social Media Report focused on Facebook usage as the primary metric of social media usage in the Arab region. In this second edition of the report, in addition to Facebook our research expands to Twitter, another social networking platform which has been influential on several levels during the first quarter of the year. Produced by the Dubai School of Government’s Governance and Innovation Program, the second Arab Social Media Report highlights and specifically analyzes usage trends of online social networking across the Arab region based on data collected in the first quarter of 2011. In this edition, the report analyzes data on Twitter and Facebook users in all 22 Arab countries, in addition to Iran, Israel and Turkey, highlighting the role they played in the civil movements that swept the region during that period. This is part of a larger research initiative focusing on social engagement through ICT for better policy in Arab states, which explores the use of social networking services in governance, social inclusion and entrepreneurship promotion. The initiative also studies the potential of social networking applications for increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation, both between and among government entities, citizens and the private sector.
Ultimately, we hope that the report findings shed light on the role that social media played during the civil movements in the region in 2011.
This report, along with updated information, charts and links to social networking ASMR group pages are available at: www.ArabSocialMediaReport.com. For questions or media enquiries please direct emails to the authors at: email@example.com
Social media tools have continued to grow in popularity throughout the first quarter of 2011. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have expanded their user base and platforms significantly. Facebook has over 677 million users as of April (with the Middle East constituting one of the regions that
Facebook has over 677 million users as of April (with the Middle East constituting one of the regions that contributed the largest amount of new users) . Its mobile users have exceeded 250 million subscribers. Twitter users also exceeded 200 million users at the end of March. Collectively, these 200 million users tweet about 4 billion tweets a month.
contributed the largest amount of new users)1. Its mobile users have exceeded 250 million2 subscribers. Twitter users also exceeded 200 million users at the end of March.3 Collectively, these 200 million users tweet about 4 billion tweets a month.4 The first three months of 2011 saw what can only be termed a substantial shift in the Arab world’s usage of social media towards online social and civil mobilization online, whether by citizens — to organize demonstrations (both pro- and antigovernment), disseminate information within their networks, and raise awareness of ongoing events locally and globally – or by governments, in some cases to engage with citizens and encourage their participation in government processes, while in other cases to block access to websites and monitor and control information on these sites.5 Figures 1, 2 and 36 illustrate the Internet blackouts in several Arab countries during first quarter of 2011.7 Egypt’s blackout lasted for five days, from January 28 – February 2. Meanwhile, Libya - at the time of accessing the site (April 20, 2011) - still seemed to be suffering from low Internet access and reduced traffic. Conversely, in the case of Syria, with the lift of the ban on social media websites by the government on February 7, YouTube and other social media traffic increased significantly.
Figure 1: Syria: Social Media Internet Trafﬁc Before and After Lifting the Ban on Social Media (February 7, 2011) - YouTube as an example8
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Jan 23 Jan 30 Feb 06 Feb 13 Feb 20
http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/05/11/facebook-surpasses-677-million-users-more-traffic-trends-and-data-at-inside-facebook-gold-may-2011edition/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InsideFacebook+%28Inside+Facebook%29 http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/03/31/facebook-passes-250-million-mobile-users-overhauls-mobile-website/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_ medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InsideFacebook+%28Inside+Facebook%29 http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/twitter-active-users_b6628 http://venturebeat.com/2011/03/14/twitter-1-billion-tweets/?source=facebook http://www.ottawacitizen.com/mobile/iphone/story.html?id=4771747
3 4 5 6
The traffic graphs show the fraction of the worldwide traffic to a given Google product that comes from a given region. The data are then normalized and scaled so that the highest value in the graph is 100. as gauged by Google’s Internet traffic report Source (Accessed April 10, 2011): www.google.com/transparencyreport/traffic/?r=SY&l=YOUTUBE&csd=1295947800000&ced=1298367000000 Vol. 1, No. 2
Arab Social Media Report
Figure 2: Libya: Internet Trafﬁc Before and After March 3, 2011 - Sample of all Google Products9
Figure 3: Egypt: Internet Trafﬁc Between January 28 and February 2, 2011 - Sample of all Google Products10
35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Source (Accessed April 10, 2011) : http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/traffic/?r=LY&l=EVERYTHING&csd=1297962000000&c ed=1300381200000
Source (Accessed April 10, 2011) http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/traffic/?r=EG&l=EVERYTHING&csd=1294957800000&c ed=1297377000000
Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter
Regardless. and whether or not these protests were manifested in the streets. the number of Facebook users has risen significantly in most Arab countries. most notably so in the countries where protests have taken place.co.bbc. most notably so in the countries where protests have taken place.co. No. the implications it may have.com/2011/01/28/how-egypt-switched-o -the-internet/ (3) http://www. to Syria unblocking access to previously restricted social networking sites. Facebook had to contend with the backlash from the Israeli government surrounding the “Third Palestinian Intifada” page before eventually taking it down at the end of March. and as of mid-April has close to 170.com/me/2011/01/10/facebook-twitter-blocked-in-algeria-amid-riots/ (2) http://gigaom.com/Intifada.uk/news/world-middle-east-12902273 (9) https://www. and how to maintain the neutrality of these sites without infringing upon their users’ freedom of speech. this has proven true.hu ngtonpost.org/2011/02/08/syria-facebook-and-youtube-unblocked-among-others/ (5) http://www.The number of Facebook users has risen significantly in most Arab countries.com/2011/02/02/egypt-facebook-use-internet_n_817710. The latter ranges from the Egyptian military council creating Facebook pages to engage with their constituents. Figure 5 illustrates the countries where a Facebook page’s call to protest on a given date was made. it is not just governments and citizens that are wrestling with the new political uses of social media. The page was recreated two days later. As Figure 4 shows.15May As detailed further on within this report. Moreover.000 “likes.uk/news/technology-12829808 (8) http://www.” Figure 4: Selected Highlights of Social Media and Internet Activity in the Arab Region in Q1-2011 1/9/2011 1/26/2011 2/1/2011 2/6/2011 2/18/2011 2/18/2011 3/22/2011 3/28/2011 3/30/2011 Facebook and Twitter partially blocked in Algeria for one day (1) Internet blackout in Egypt for 5 days (2) Egypt Facebook usage skyrockets after internet’s return (3) Syria lifts ban on social media websites (4) Libya shuts down Internet (5) Egyptian Sudan Facebook New Supreme pro-government takes down Facebook Military supporters palestinian Intifada Council use intifada page page engages social media (with 350k is created with citizens to stop supporters) with on Facebook protests (8) over 167k (6) (7) supporters within 2 weeks (9) (1)http://thenextweb. with some camps labeling them the main instigators and other relegating them to mere tools. The social media companies themselves are facing a dilemma when it comes to addressing this kind of usage. Figure 4 shows some highlights of the first quarter of 2011 in both citizens’ and governments’ use of social media.com/web/5465-libya-internet-down-facebook-twitter-egypt (6) http://bikyamasr. The role of social media in the revolutions that have swept the region has been debated. 2 .bbc. 1. it can be stated that many of the calls to protest in the Arab region were initially made on Facebook (save for the first protest in Tunisia). In all cases but one (the initial failed call to protest in Syria on February 4). The former includes an example of the innovation that emerges in times of crisis.com/wordpress/?p=27802 (7) http://www. 4 Arab Social Media Report Vol.gizmocrunch.html/ (4) http://globalvoicesonline.facebook.
bbc.5 Yes %0. given the small Facebook penetration in most of these countries (notably Syria and Yemen). Egypt.93 Yes %1.student.0 Yes %4.5%.nytimes.cnn.8* Yes** %5.google.uk/news/world-middle-east-12749674 This is not to say that there was a causal relationship.newsweek.Apr 5 17% 10% 20% Egypt Jan 25 .html (8) http://www. for example. has a relatively low penetration rate of 5. who in turn are connected to a much larger number of social contacts who can be influenced by information from those with Facebook accounts.8e1 (5) http://www.19 No %32.html (3)http://articles. but as the initial platform for these calls.co.Apr 5 29% 21% 12% 10% 6% Oman Mar 2 .com/2011-02-10/world/yemen.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i2YM2LCYTyiuV6jLNIhaLdIPiOAA?docId=CNG.Apr 5 18% 4% Saudi Arabia Mar 11 . or that the Facebook pages were the defining or only factor in people organizing themselves on these dates. it can be argued that for many protestors these tools were not central. Figure 6: Growth Rate of Facebook Users During the 2011 Protests.google.reuters.8 Yes Tunisia Jan 14 (1) Syria Egypt Yemen Jan 25 (2) Feb 3 & 10 Feb 4 (4) (3) Bahrain Libya Feb 14 (5) Feb 17 (6) Oman Saudi Arabia Mar 3 (7) Mar 11 & 20 (8) Palestine Syria.3 Yes %7.com/article/2011/02/23/us-saudi-facebook-idUSLDE71M08Q20110223 (9) http://www. that translates into around 6 million Facebook users.Apr 5 Tunisia Jan 14 .Figure 5: Mapping Calls for Protest on Facebook with Actual Demonstration %18. but given its large population.Apr 5 Yemen Feb 3 .48f3fb2a5d4e5791795d8c3f3b8c5311.9 Yes %1.Apr 5 -76% 2011 2010 Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 5 .Apr 5 Libya Feb 17 . March May 15 (10) 15 and onwards(9) * Facebook penetration rates at at the start of protests in each country ** Initial protest was not organized on Facebook.331 (6) http://globalvoicesonline. it cannot be denied that they were a factor in mobilizing movements.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-01-15/tunisa-protests-the-facebook-revolution/ (2)http://www.com/2011/03/01/world/middleeast/01oman.protest_1_student-protest-demonstration-facebook?_s=PM:WORLD (4) http://www.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gmg4rvAfz5HpVrBLnRRPpOxQUwvQ?docId=CNG.org/2011/02/16/libya-protests-begin-in-benghazi-ahead-of-february-17-day-of-wrath/ (7) http://www.174090b19aab9f0dd092524489bf4699.com/2011/01/22/the-revolution-comes-to-egypt.thedailybeast. However.67 Yes %12.8 Yes %12. as Compared to a Similar Time Period in 2010 60% 47% 40% 20% 0% -20% -40% -60% -80% -100% 15% 6% Bahrain Feb 14 . although further protests were (1) http://www. It can also be argued that Facebook was an instrumental tool for a core number of activists who then mobilized wider networks through other platforms or through traditional real-life networks of strong ties.
05% 33.37% 2. the Governance and Innovation program at the Dubai School of Government conducted a survey that was distributed through Facebook’s targeted advertising platform to all Facebook users in Tunisia and Egypt.31% 24. we notice that the growth rates have doubled and even tripled in some countries. spurring people to be more active. 2 . 1.55% 22. Less than 15% in either country believed Facebook was primarily being used for entertainment or social reasons Figure 7: The Main Usage of Facebook during the Civil Movement and Events in Early 2011 was to: 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Egypt Tunisia 29. The survey ran for three weeks in March 2011.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201122703618479675. spread information to the world about the movements (33% and 24% in Tunisia and Egypt respectively).html 6 Arab Social Media Report Vol. 2. and organize activists and actions (22% and 30% in Tunisia and Egypt respectively).aljazeera. 11 http://english. No. by comparing the growth rate for each country during and following the protests to a similar period just preceding the protests. decisive and to find ways to be more creative about communicating and organizing (see Figure 8). games etc. as Figure 6 illustrates. The numbers themselves do not illustrate the type of usage. English and French.93% 31. But the exponential growth in the number of Facebook users coinciding with the protests in each country does indicate the need for further research to explore the possible correlation.48% 10. Spotlight on Tunisia and Egypt: Facebook Usage during the Civil Movements As a first step in taking a closer look at the usage of Facebook during the protests and civil movements. In both countries.11 Moreover. except for Libya. with other usage purely social and not entirely related to the civil movements at the time.09% 12. Some usage may be political.06% 30. Facebook users were of the opinion that Facebook had been used primarily to raise awareness within their countries about the ongoing civil movements (31% in both Tunisia and Egypt).74% Other Entertainment and social uses: Connect with friends. of course. There were 126 respondents from Egypt and 105 from Tunisia. and was conducted in Arabic. the protests themselves seem to have led to a rise in number of Facebook users in the region.40% 3. Raise awareness inside the country on the causes of the movements Spread information to the world about the movement and related events Organize actions and manage activists (teams or individuals) The majority (at almost 60%) of Facebook users in each country felt that the main impact of blocking the Internet was a positive one for the social movements.Conversely. which could be explained by the number of expatriate workers leaving or switching Facebook locations. The countries where protests occurred have all shown a positive growth rate.
38% No impact: Shutting off the Internet or blocking Facebook did not have any impact on the civil movement Negative (disrupted the main communication channel people were using to organize and communicate with each other) Positive (making people more determined. the primary language of use was split almost evenly between Arabic and French.62% English French 51.57% 15.43% When it came to politicians’ use of social media. Tunisia and Egypt diverge slightly. a significant majority of Facebook users in Egypt (71%) would rather vote for a candidate that engages with citizens through social media tools. (Figure 9). mobilizing poeple to find creative ways to organize and communicate) In Tunisia. Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 7 . Figure 9: The Primary Language you used to communicate on Facebook during the Civil Movement was: 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Egypt Tunisia 75.60% 47.Figure 8: The Primary Impact on the Civil Movements of the Authorities’ Blocking the Internet and Facebook was: 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Egypt Tunisia 56.78% 28. while in Egypt 75% mainly used Arabic and the remaining 25% used English while communicating on Facebook.35% 59. As Figure 10 illustrates.87% 12.40% 0. whereas only 47% of Facebook users in Tunisia would.95% Arabic 24.05% 27. pushing undecided people to be more active.
radio newsportals) Sate-sponsored media (television. mobilizing poeple to find creative ways to organize and communicate) 16.00% 35.35% 22.29% 85.71% 8 Arab Social Media Report Vol. 1. pushing undecided people to be more active.09% 56.85% 47.19% Figure 11: Where did you get your news/information on the events during the civil movements? 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Social media sources (social networking sites: Facebook.10% 94.62% 40..62% 71.71% Tunisia 88. 2 . newspaper.43% 6. newspapers.. etc. No.70% 64. radio sponsored by your government) Egypt 62. online sources in your country) Other sources Regional or international media (satellite television.19% No impact: Shutting off the Internet or blocking Facebook did not have any impact on the civil movement Negative (disrupted the main communication channel people were using to organize and communicate with each other) Positive (making people more determined.Figure 10: How will the use of social networking tools by politicians in upcoming electrol and political campaigns influence your choice of candidate? 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Egypt Tunisia 47.22% 36. independent or private media (television. newspapers. twitter. radio.29% 59.) Local. blogs.
and has added more users in the Q1-2011 than any Arab country. Table 1: Facebook Users and Official Population Figures for the GCC Countries Country Oman Saudi Arabia Kuwait Bahrain Qatar UAE Population 3.596 1.08 22. which provided an overview of Facebook users through 2010.972 in April 2010).54 28.282 (January 5. The number of Facebook users in the Arab world increased by 30% in the first quarter of 2011.2011 This edition of the Arab Social Media Report focuses both on Facebook and Twitter usage in the Arab region.ilo.979 3.32 29.840 4. the number of Facebook users in all 22 Arab countries. while the reverse was true in Tunisia.406. Below are the key findings: Penetration and uptake Facebook in the Arab World: A Snapshot • The total number of Facebook users in the Arab world stands at 27. More Egyptians relied on local media than they did on regional or international media. Israel and Turkey.940 481.Not surprisingly. Both countries also relied the least on state-sponsored media for their information (at 40% and 36% of people in Tunisia and Egypt respectively).092.600 795.12 All of the figures in international reports conflict with more recent official GCC population numbers. GCC countries still dominate the top five Arab Facebook users as percentage of population. in the following age brackets — youth (15-29). UAE Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 9 .234.120 Facebook penetration (%) 8.435 8.95 15. Replacing some of the population figures with more recent figures from National Statistics Offices13 (specifically for the GCC countries) drastically changes the Facebook penetration rates within the GCC (see Table 1 and Figure 12). The UAE remains at the top of the Arab region. in addition to Iran. These official population figures are acknowledged as the more accurate data. the country average for Facebook user penetration in the Arab region was just over 7. 2011). Egypt still constitutes about a quarter of total Facebook users in the Arab region. This section. while 88% of people in Egypt did).136. with Lebanon being the only exception.82 24. social media figured highly in both countries as a source of information during the civil movements (94% of people in Tunisia said they got their news from these tools. having almost doubled since the same time last year (14. but ILO numbers were used to ensure consistency across the Arab region.377. was collected periodically between January and April 2011. given that the survey is conducted among Facebook users.699. Madar Research.503 (as of April 5.000 Facebook Users 277.881 1.484. At the beginning of April 2011. up from just under 6% at the end of 2010. 3.13 12 13 http://laborsta. and adults (30 and over) — as well as by gender. at close to 2 million new Facebook users between January 5 and April 5.580 27.103. provides an update on Facebook usage during the first quarter of 2011. continuing from the last report. specifically.280 2.5%.711.org/ Arab ICT Use Report 2010. • • • • The populations for the Arab world used in this report were compiled from the United Nations ILO Department of Statistics.260. Mapping Facebook in the Arab World – Update Q1 . 2011).100 302. As such. up from 21. Dubai.791.
00 0.00 5.90 1. http://laborsta. Turkey has also acquired a large number of new Facebook users (both as a percentage of population. No. eight Arab countries had acquired more Facebook users (as a percentage of population) than the US. 1.00 1.95 15.6 million new Facebook users signing up between January and April 2011.00 20. At the beginning of April 2011. In comparison.10 2.06 6.75 3.01 0.27 2.39 1.08 24.56 1.Figure 12: Facebook Penetration Rates of GCC countries. as percentage of population. and has outpaced a lot of the Arab countries (Figure 13). Turkey has acquired almost double the number of Facebook users that Egypt has over the same period (1.00 6. 2011 (using official population figures) 35.00 30.ilo.54 22. several Arab countries still outpace the Top 10 in terms of new users acquired throughout the first quarter of 2011.84 0.00 5.21 2.16 3.74 1.00 4.31 5.95 million) (Figure 14).00 Oman Saudi Arabia Kuwait Bahrain Qatar UAE 8. 2 M or Sy Ira n . Figure 13: New Facebook Users In the Arab Region and Globally (Jan. one of the highest ranking countries in the world in terms of Facebook penetration.11 4.23 2.00 2.48 1.00 25. April 5. when comparing the uptake of Facebook in Arab countries with that in some of the “Top 10“ countries (in terms of Facebook penetration worldwide). 2011).13 Moreover.19 2.82 28. With over 3.14 0. 5.00 5.00 10. 5 -Apr.00 15.00 3.75 2.01 1. as Percentage of Population* 7.32 29.03 U AE Ku w ai t Tu ni sia Tu rk ey Jo Sa r ud dan iA ra bi Ba a hr a Pa in le sti ne Eg yp t co O m an U K Isr a Le el ba no n Al ge ria N or w ay Ca na da q ria Su da n U S ile Ira oc Ch *2011 populations. from United Nations ILO Department of Statistics.00 0.93 1.org/ See Figure 12 for rankings using official GCC population data 10 Arab Social Media Report Vol.76 4. and in terms of actual numbers).
28 5.22 0.000.25 22.420 161.000 1. Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter M au 11 . 5.50 25.820 535.00 3.047 25.940 101.640 291.000 4.000.000 3. plus Iran.01 44.37 1. http://laborsta.690 845.00 20.660 2.732 165.00 0. Iran and Turkey are also included for comparative purposes in this report.Figure 14: Number of New Facebook Users in the Arab Region.800 500.49 9.600 313. 14 Israel.51 21.300 -500. 2011) Turkey Egypt KSA Morocco Algeria Tunisia Iraq Jordan UAE Syria Kuwait Yemen Israel Palestine Lebanon Sudan Oman Iran Bahrain Mauritania Somalia Djibouti Comoros Qatar -30.89 So Co * 2011 population.83 30.000 0 3.00 40.000 2.24 en rit an ia Sy ria Ira q Li by a ge ria D jib ou ti Eg yp t O m an M or oc co Pa l Sa esti n ud iA e ra bi a Jo rd an Tu ni s Le ia ba no n Ku w ai t Q at ar Tu rk ey Ba hr ai n Isr ae l U AE Al al ia an Ira n Su d or Ye m m m os 50.340 124. 5. Israel and Turkey (Jan.74 0.620 590.000 2.380 140.89 36.360 560. as Middle Eastern countries that share certain socioeconomic and geopolitical characteristics with many Arab countries.640 326.480 192.500.22 1.000.300 14.500.480 22.78 7. Figure 15: Facebook User Penetration* in the Arab Region.78 1.00 30.org/ See Figure 12 for rankings using official GCC population data.28 1.000 On a regional level14 .37 13.00 10. plus Iran.94 2.000 3.42 5.00 50. 2011) 60.720 113.63 25.Apr.820 6. the Arab countries can be divided into three groups according to their rates of Facebook penetration (Figure 15).000 1.000.66 9.ilo. from United Nations ILO Department of Statistics.780 Libya -182.951.645.010 39.10 15.18 35.01 1.649 1.500.780 65. Israel and Turkey (Apr.
120 9% Egypt Demographic and gender breakdown of Facebook penetration The demographic breakdown of Facebook users indicates that they are a youthful group. ranging from less than 1% to just under 10%. rising from 32% at the end of 2010 to 33. (Facebook penetration above 30%) 2. with only Lebanon slipping from fourth to fifth place. The gender breakdown of Facebook users shows a slight increase in the percentage of female users. 2011) 6. Yemen moving up two places and Iran slipping to last place.074. the UAE is still the most balanced in terms of adult and youthful Facebook users.947.Youth (between the ages of 15 and 29) make up around 70% of Facebook users in the Arab region. indicating a medium penetration of Facebook users. 2 . indicating a slight increase in the number of users over 30 years old since the end of 2010.260 24% 7. Moreover. 1.900 7% Morocco KSA 3.356. 1.586. These rankings have changed minimally since the end of 2010. Figure 16 highlights the numbers of Facebook users and their penetration as percentage of total Facebook users in the Arab world.5% in the first quarter of 2011. indicating room for growth.092.600 15% 1. Figure 16: Number of Facebook Users and Percentage of Users in the Arab Region (Apr. while countries such as Somalia. indicating a pervasive use of Facebook in their societies. Youth (between the ages of 15 and 29) make up around 70% of Facebook users in the Arab region. where women constitute 61% of Facebook users 12 Arab Social Media Report Vol.203.406.520 8% 2.147 25% Remaining Arab Countries Algeria Tunisia UAE 4. indicating a slight increase in the number of users over 30 years old since the end of 2010. Palestine and Morocco persist in having a predominantly youthful Facebook user population (see Figure 17).440 12% 2. No. Top performers: These countries’ Facebook user penetration rates are on par with the Top 20 countries in the world. This is still significantly lower than the global trend. Developing users: These countries have low rates of Facebook user penetration. 3. Emerging countries: These countries’ Facebook user penetration ranges from 10%-25%.
Figure 18: Gender Breakdown of Facebook Users in the Arab countries* (April 2011) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% E Ku wa it Ara bia rita nia Lib ya Ira q stin UA eri isia ros tar uti en lia an yp co an in Ye m Jor d Om Alg Pal e Tu n So Co Mo Dj Ba Ma u di Le ba no ibo Qa mo roc ma Eg hra n a e t 21 22 25 27 30 31 31 31 32 33 34 35 36 36 Sa ud 38 38 41 42 42 45 Female users as percentage of total country users 79 78 75 73 70 69 69 69 68 67 66 65 64 64 62 62 59 58 58 55 Male users as percentage of total country users *Excluding Syria and Sudan (due to US technology sanctions. Tunisia and Jordan.Figure 17: Demographic Breakdown of Facebook Users in the Arab Region* (April 2011) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% e o uti en lia an a isia t nia ros Lib ya q n ia an in Ku wa it tar stin eri yp rab Ye m ma Jor d Om ibo hra Mo ro Alg Tu n rita mo Pal e ba iA Dj So Ma u Co Le Ba Qa Eg UA cc Ira no E 19 21 21 21 22 23 24 25 25 28 31 32 33 33 34 36 38 43 44 45 Over 30 FB users (% of total country users) 81 79 79 79 78 77 76 75 75 72 69 68 67 67 66 64 62 57 56 55 15-29 FB users (% of total country users) *Excluding Syria and Sudan (due to US technology sanctions. no data on gender breakdown of Facebook users is available) In terms of Facebook usage. This is still significantly lower than the global trend. while at the other end of the spectrum Facebook users in Somalia and Yemen are overwhelmingly male. no data on demographic breakdown of Facebook users is available) The gender breakdown of Facebook users shows a slight increase in the percentage of female users. rising from 32% at the end of 2010 to 33. where women constitute 61% of Facebook users15 (see Figure 18). Lebanon is still the most gender-balanced of the Arab countries. 15 http://socialmediatoday. followed closely by Bahrain.5% in the first quarter of 2011.com/paulkiser/285851/who-uses-facebook-twitter-linkedin-myspace-4thq-1stq-stats-and-analysis Sa u Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 13 .
42 3. Algeria (82%).65 16.54 0.22 0.11 1.90 59.92 71.32 16.55 1.68 2.00 66.39 0.11 76.05 9.29 0. Egypt.54 69.98 54. while Yemen (75%).85 36. Morocco (77%). Table 2: Language Interface Preferred by Facebook Users* (as a percentage) .81 23.24 0. English and French) and the percentage of Facebook users that prefer to use each language interface. North African countries (with the exception of Egypt) prefer to use French.51 30.09 82.97 38. Somalia (84%). Language preferences across the region diverged considerably.88 44.63 58. Palestine (67%).Ranked by Arabic Country Yemen Palestine Saudi Arabia Iraq Egypt Jordan Oman Libya Bahrain Kuwait Mauritania Morocco Qatar Algeria UAE Lebanon Djibouti Tunisia Somalia Comoros Arabic (% of FB users) 75.35 0.72 0.38 32.61 31. Countries that predominantly use Facebook’s English interface are Lebanon (91%).72 4.72 84.84 67.04 41.07 14.80 27. Kuwait (70%). 14 Arab Social Media Report Vol.77 62.36 90. Table 2 and Figure 19 highlight the three main languages used on Facebook in the region (Arabic. Tunisia (95%).02 5.25 1.19 79. UAE (85%).45 0.25 85.57 0.24 2.Language breakdown of Facebook users Facebook users across the Arab region also vary in their preference of language interface.91 5. Comoros (93%). Libya and Iraq are more evenly split between the use of Arabic and English interfaces.87 *Excluding Syria and Sudan (due to US technology sanctions. Jordan.20 0.75 48. 1.62 53.20 English (% of FB users) French (% of FB users) 21.09 49.60 1.39 4. all predominantly use the French interface.56 1.00 47.32 36. and Saudi Arabia (60%) mainly use the Arabic interface.03 4. Bahrain (68%) and Oman (62%).32 92. and Mauritania (71%). Qatar (79%). 2 . No. no data on demographic breakdown of Facebook users is available) The GCC countries (with the exception of Saudi Arabia) primarily prefer to use English on Facebook. most likely because of their large English-speaking expatriate population.11 2.76 94.
up from 55 million a day around the same time last year. Twitter penetration and uptake in the Arab region The total number of active Twitter users. North African countries (with the exception of Egypt) prefer to use French.00 0.”17 meaning that most information on Twitter is generated by a minority. Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter Sau 15 . tweets and top trends in each of the 22 Arab countries (plus Iran. Some studies have pointed out that 20. users who have never tweeted at all) are excluded from this estimate. among others. Israel and Turkey) over the period January 1 – March 30. Tweets and Trends Twitter has grown in the five years since its inception to become a powerful microblogging tool used for purposes ranging from marketing to celebrity endorsement. with a 41% increase daily in the number of tweets. http://colombia. 2011 was estimated using a Twitter API (application programming interface) specially developed for this research. Briefly. 4: Mapping Twitter in the Arab World – Users. at the end of the first quarter of 2011.com/details/blog/722/ These estimates include accounts of all levels of activity.000 “elite” users generate about 50% of all “tweets”16 (a claim later refuted by a Twitter executive). from prolific tweeters to accounts which are rarely used.Figure 19: Language Interface Preference for Facebook Users in the Arab World 120. the number of Twitter users has grown to over 200 million by April 2011.” meaning that most information on Twitter is generated by a minority. 16 17 18 http://research. Twitter executive Sean Garret has refuted this claim on his Twitter page.00 60. and using this sample to estimate the active Twitter population18 (active in this case being defined as someone who has tweeted at least once within these two weeks – dormant users were not included). only 30-40 million of the 200 Twitter users are actually “active.00 40.00 an Ku wa it Lib ya Egy hra tan stin UA E eri ou Ira isia b ia ros on tar co an lia Alg Dj ib Pal e Leb Ba uri Co Mo Ma di So Tu n Yem Jor d Om roc mo Qa Ara ma an en in pt ia ti q a e Arabic (% of FB users) English (% of FB users) French (% of FB users) Overall.00 100.00 20.yahoo. it consists of sampling a certain number of Twitter users in each country captured across a two week span.twirus. and even disaster relief. tweeting 1 billion tweets per week. the volume of tweets they generated and the top trends for the retroactive three-month period mentioned.00 80.com/pub/3386. while the majority use Twitter to consume news as more of a newsfeed than a microblog. the GCC countries (with the exception of Saudi Arabia) primarily prefer to use English on Facebook. The first quarter of 2011 has also shown a 50% increase in monthly unique mobile signups and a 52% increase in Twitter account signups. and only 30-40 million of the 200 Twitter users are actually “active.. As mentioned in the introduction. the number of tweets had risen to 155 million a day. most likely because of their large English-speaking expatriate population. Only dormant users (i. The methodology used is detailed in Annex 1. while the majority use Twitter to consume news as more of a newsfeed than a microblog.e. according to official Twitter statistics. Moreover. to news aggregation and dissemination.
204 133.567.4 million mentions in the tweets generated during this period) #jan25 (with 1.060 217.000) • • • As with Facebook. 1.020 55. and protest (620. Qatar.384 21. with 217.060 Twitter users (See Figure 20).292 35. #bahrain (640.292.150. The estimated number of tweets generated in the Arab region in the first quarter of 2011 (Jan. The top five Arab countries in terms of number of Twitter users are UAE. we get a total Twitter population of 6. Egypt.000 1.369 13. 1 – March 30) by these “active users” was 22.859 61. 2 .422 34.2. Figure 20: Number of Active Twitter Users in the Arab Region plus Iran.000 1.81 daily tweets. or 175 tweets a minute. Multiplying by the ratio of total users to active users above (an average of 200 million/35 million = 5.896 63. No.849 113.046 4.627 users.000 tweets. million mentions).000 2. followed by the UAE.625 29.407 4.500. The estimated number of daily tweets is 252.627 500. which leads the Arab countries with 201.000.000 2.919 79.163 104. or roughly three tweets a second.746 40.428 115.280. #libya (with 990.• The estimated number of active Twitter users in the Arab region at the end of March 2011 was 1. 1 and March 30.000 mentions). Turkey dominates in the number of Twitter users.000 16 Arab Social Media Report Vol. The most popular trending hashtags across the Arab region in the first quarter were #egypt (with 1.084 131.000 mentions). 2011) Comoros Mauritania Djibouti Somalia Oman Sudan Palestine Algeria Morocco Iraq Yemen Iran Tunisia Syria Jordan Bahrain Libya Lebanon Israel Kuwait Saudi Arabia Egypt Qatar UAE Turkey 0 834 1. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.244 6. The estimated number of daily tweets per active user in the Arab region in the first quarter of 2011 is 0.000.459 11.679 9.000 tweets per day.7).500.209 201.235 17.750. Israel and Turkey (Average number between Jan.
ilo. Israel and Turkey (Average between Jan.34 0.699. Arab countries can be divided into: 1.900 133. 2011 Oman Saudi Arabia UAE Kuwait Bahrain Qatar Population 3.00 UA E Ku wa it Leb an on Lib ya tar an in el Isra hra Jor d Qa Ba 7.00 3.When it comes to Twitter penetration as a percentage of population on a regional level. As with Facebook penetration.05 0.23 0. indicating a high use of Twitter in their societies relative to other Arab countries.25 0.00 6.45 0.000 Twitter penetration (%) 0. 2011) 9.580 27.000 61. Bahrain.07 0.17 0. Emerging countries: These countries’ Twitter user penetration ranges from 3%-5%.85 1. The “top 5” countries in terms of Twitter penetration are the same as “top 5” countries in terms of Facebook penetration (with a shift in ranking. however): Qatar. with the exception of Lebanon.103.63 1.234.00 7.org/ See Figure 22 for rankings using official GCC population data.46% and 7.42 0. Qatar and Bahrain lead the way with a 8. the populations used in calculating Twitter penetration are based on ILO statistics.43 3.04 0.00 5. 3.05 0.979 8. indicating room for growth.12 0.83 Sau Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter Ma uri 17 .680 115. Table 3: Twitter Users and Officials Population Figures for the GCC Countries March 30. indicating a medium penetration of Twitter users relative to other Arab countries.43 0.12 0.28 0.881 1.96 0. Developing users: These countries have Twitter user penetration rates are under 2%.15 0.22 0.00 8.000 3. 2.000 201.435 Twitter users 6.00 1. Kuwait and Lebanon (Figure 21).596 1.04 0.01 7.18 3. Figure 21: Twitter Penetration in the Arab Region plus Iran. Top performers: These countries’ Twitter user penetration is above 5%.260. http://laborsta. Most countries in this category actually have a penetration rate of just under 1%. UAE.02 isia bia ros uti an en co lia ey pt ia ia q n stin eri Alg Ira Ira Tur k Egy tan Syr da Su n e a Tun Pal e Yem Om ibo Ara mo roc ma So di Co Mo Dj * 2011 populations.00 0.04 0.136.000 113.85 0.00 4.00 2.53% Twitter penetration respectively.53 4. 1 and March 30.46 8. from United Nations ILO Department of Statistics. The penetration rates using the official population numbers for the GCC can be seen in Table 3 and Figure 22.42 2.484.24 5.
00 5.160.060.000 5.22 0.000 3.000 1.500.000 1.000 4.00 6. 2 .890.000 4.000 2. 2011).42 2.000 2.000.350.100 252.000 990. 2011) Comoros Mauritania Djibouti Somalia Oman Sudan Algeria Morocco Iraq Tunisia Jordan Palestine Yemen Syria Lebanon Bahrain Israel Libya Egypt Saudi Arabia UAE Qatar Kuwair Turkey 0 10.900 89.00 8.000 3.000.000 639.800 10.000 342.000 1.000 639.500.00 7.00 3.01 7.March 30. No.000.43 3.00 4. Qatar.000 2.790.000 3.000 4.000.000 729.000 500. 1 .000 783.000 1.00 1.200 79.00 2.690.680.000 2. using Official Population Figures 9. Saudi Arabia and Egypt.250.500.000 576. UAE. Figure 22: Twitter Penetration of GCC Countries (March 30.800 61.Over 60% of tweets within the first quarter of 2011 were generated by Kuwait.24 5.350.00 0.000 1.500.200 81.83 Figure 23: Number of Tweets in the Arab Region* plus Israel and Turkey (Jan.000. 1.000 252.00 Oman Saudi Arabia UAE Kuwait Bahrain Qatar 0.000 3.000 2.000 * Iran was excluded due to lack of credible data on number of tweets 18 Arab Social Media Report Vol.
27 and 28 highlight a timeline of daily tweets19 over the first quarter of 2011 in Bahrain. and calculated as a percentage of total tweets in the Arab region over this time period (Figure 24). Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 19 . the size of a country’s active Twitter population correlates with the volume of tweets it generates. Figure 24: Percentage of Tweets in the Arab Region (Jan. who also have the top five largest active Twitter populations in the region. Qatar.Volume of tweets in the Arab region The volume of tweets from each country was estimated between January 1 and March 30 (see Figure 23).50 % Egypt Remaining 9. to a certain extent.March 30. Consequently. 1 . Egypt. The top five generators of tweets in the Arab region are Kuwait. UAE.90 % In looking at the fluctuations in the volume of daily tweets in certain countries.47 % United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia 12. but their concurrence provides a high degree of circumstantial evidence for linking current events to a higher tweet volume. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. 2011) 16. we can see that some of the fluctuations or “spikes” seem to coincide with current events at the time. This does not conclusively indicate that the events directly contributed to the fluctuations in tweet volume. Figure 23 shows that over 60% of tweets within the first quarter of 2011 were generated by these five countries. Saudi Arabia and Egypt.61 % 13. 26. Figure 25: Volume of Daily Tweets in Bahrain 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 Jan 1 Jan 3 Jan 5 Jan 7 Jan 9 Jan 11 Jan 13 Jan 15 Jan 17 Jan 19 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 25 Jan 27 Jan 29 Jan 31 Feb 2 Feb 4 Feb 6 Feb 8 Feb 10 Feb 12 Feb 14 Feb 16 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 22 Feb 24 Feb 26 Feb 28 Feb 14 protests in Bahrain 19 Daily tweet volumes are approximations based on smaller samples than the rest of the study and as such tend to be “noisy. Figures 25.24 % Kuwait Qatar 38.” Refer to Annex 1 for methodology.28 % 9.
000 30.Feb 2) Feb 2 Feb 4 Feb 6 Jan 27 Jan 29 Jan 31 Feb 8 Feb 10 Feb 12 Feb 14 Feb 16 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 22 Feb 24 Mar 28 Feb 26 Mar 29 Feb 28 Mar 30 President Mubarak leaves office Feb 11 Jan 14 protests in Tunisia Figure 27: Volume of Daily Tweets in Saudi Arabia 90. 1.000 20.000 10.000 50.000 70.000 80.000 0 Mar 1 Mar 2 Mar 3 Mar 4 Mar 5 Mar 6 Mar 7 Mar 8 Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 12 Mar 13 Mar 14 Mar 15 Mar 16 Mar 17 Mar 18 Mar 19 Mar 20 Mar 21 Mar 22 Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25 Mar 26 Mar 27 Mar 11 protests in Saudi Arabia Lead-up to Mar 20 protests in Saudi Arabia 20 Arab Social Media Report Vol.000 40. No.000 60. 2 .Figure 26: Volume of Daily Tweets in Egypt 35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 Jan 1 Jan 3 Jan 5 Jan 7 Jan 9 Jan 11 Jan 13 Jan 15 Jan 17 Jan 19 Jan 21 Jan 23 Jan 25 Internet blackout in Egypt (Jan 28.
000 990.000 1.000 1. Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 21 .000 0 Jan 1 Jan 4 Jan 7 Jan 10 Jan 13 Jan 16 Jan 19 Jan 22 Jan 25 Jan 28 Jan 31 Feb 3 Feb 6 Feb 9 Feb 12 Feb 15 Feb 18 Feb 21 Feb 24 Feb 27 Mar 2 Mar 5 Mar 8 Mar 11 Mar 14 Jan 14 protests in Tunisia Tunisian interim president appoints new prime minister .000 600.000 As with the daily volume of tweets.000 800. to a large extent.400.000 6.000 0 #egypt #jan25 #libya #bahrain protest 620. respectively). Figures 30 and 31 show a timeline of the mentions of top trending terms in tweets generated in Egypt and Tunisia (#jan25 and #sidibouzid.000 640.000 1.200. for certain countries. social and political events ongoing at the time did indeed drive the conversation. This gives a clearer idea of what the Twitter conversation in these two countries was about.200. spikes and fluctuations within the daily volume of mentions of popular trending words and hashtags coincided with current events at the time.000 1. Figure 29: Top Twitter Trends in the Arab Region Q1-2011 (number of mentions) 1.400.Figure 28: Volume of Daily Tweets in Tunisia 12. overlaid onto their daily tweet volume graphs. the top five trends are illustrated in Figure 29 below.000 200. and that.000 2.000 10.000 400.000 8.000.000 4. Across the region.Feb 27 Top Twitter trends in the Arab region The top trends for each country are estimated over the first three months of 2011.
000 8. No.000 4.000 6.000 2.000 0 Jan 1 Jan 8 Jan 15 Jan 22 Jan 29 Feb 5 Feb 12 Jan 14 protests Tunisian interim president appoints new prime minister.000 10. 1.Feb 27 Feb 19 #sidibouzid mentions daily Tweet volume 22 Arab Social Media Report Vol. 2 Feb 26 .Figure 30: Daily Tweet Volume and Mentions of #jan25 in Egypt 35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 Jan 25 Jan 27 Jan 29 Jan 31 Feb 2 Feb 4 Feb 6 Feb 8 Feb 10 Feb 12 Feb 14 Feb 16 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 22 Feb 24 Feb 26 Mar 5 Feb 28 President Mubarak leaves office Feb 11 Internet blackout #jan25 mentions daily Tweet volume Figure 31: Daily Tweet Volume and Mentions of #sidibouzid in Tunisia 12.
Facebook. the UAE and Kuwait) along with Egypt dominate the top five countries in terms of both Twitter users and volume of tweets. while French is the language of choice in five Arab countries.Analysis Regional Overview • Compared to 2010.21 Moreover. The GCC countries (specifically Qatar. the volume of tweets and number of Twitter users are correlated. beyond Internet penetration. and mobile penetration rates. The remaining countries’ Facebook populations were split between Arabic and English. Female participation in Facebook usage remains glaringly low. indicating a healthy interest in Twitter among the population of Doha. These indicated a higher than average number (compared to the rest of the region) of very active users. as compared to Twitter users.scribd. Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 23 . at a rate much higher than is possible for a human. Youth continue to drive the growth of Facebook in the region. with the exception of Libya.5%). Doha recently hosted the Doha 2011 Twestival. Generally. English is the language of choice for most users in seven Arab countries.average Twitter user penetration These include the UAE and Kuwait. Possible factors include Qatar winning the 2022 World Cup bid last year. growing 30% in the first three months as compared to 18% over the same period in 2010. Countries where major civil movements have occurred have shown exponential growth during and after those civil movements. Given the much smaller population of Qatar. which may help to explain the high uptake of Twitter in the first quarter of 2011.com/2011/01/qatar-2022-tweet-up/ http://www. Qatar also has the second largest Twitter user population in the region (behind the UAE). the percentage of female users globally still remains significantly higher (at 61%). Arab countries can be divided into the following: Countries with high Twitter user penetration These include Qatar and Bahrain. which could include spam or ‘bots. among other social media tools.com/doc/50680415/ictQATAR-Creating-a-Strategic-Presence-in-Social-Media http://twitter. Bahrain. as part of its social media strategy.’23 as well as possibly indicating a thriving social media marketing industry that utilizes Twitter campaigns. as well as very high mobile subscription rates (see Table 6). with Arabic the language of choice for most users in three Arab countries. Kuwait generated the highest number of tweets in the region over the first quarter of 2011. making up 70% of Facebook users.22 Countries with above . despite having almost half the Twitter population of the UAE. 20 21 22 23 http://dohatweetups. again two countries with high Internet. possibly due to more adults signing on to Facebook in the wake of the civil movements across the region. as Twitter has yet to launch its Arabic interface. there are clearly other reasons. which has shown a dramatic decrease in number of Facebook users possibly due to the mass exodus of expats during the past few months. Facebook grew in the Arab region at an even faster rate. Country rankings have changed minimally. indicating distributed growth throughout the region. with the majority of these tweets coming from Doha. both countries with high Facebook penetration and Internet penetration rates. and on average just under once a day).20 The Qatari government has also embraced Twitter.com/#!/dohatwestival Internet bots are software applications that run simple and repetitive automated tasks over the Internet. The availability of various language interfaces could partly explain the larger number of Facebook users in the region. When it comes to Twitter usage. indicating that the estimated Twitter users across the region are all active (tweeting at least once every two weeks. • • • • Twitter Country Spotlights In terms of Twitter penetration as a percentage of population. and has generated the second largest number of tweets in the region (behind Kuwait). which generated Twitter buzz and recruited new Twitter users who appear to have been retained through the last three months. as compared with these two GCC countries. and is growing at a faster rate. Even though the percentage of female users has risen slightly in the region (to 33. One possible reason for this emerged on closer inspection of the patterns of tweeting captured in the sampling. in the first three months of 2011. although the number of users who are over 30 years of age has risen slightly.
Mansoura. in areas with less than 1. along with mobile subscriptions rates. Social and political events. for example. the fact that there is no Arabic interface available for Twitter could deter many potential Twitter users. with the exception of Lebanon. Conclusion The role of social media in the uprisings sweeping the Arab world has been under assessment during 2011. which could partly explain their higher Twitter rankings over Arab countries that predominantly use Facebook’s Arabic interface.5%. shaping opinions.7%. Of these countries. social media will continue to play a growing role in political. most Arab governments enjoyed full control on information flows in societies. For decades. with one of the lowest Twitter user penetration rates in the region. has 0. 24 Arab Social Media Report Vol. Jordan and Libya). societal and economic developments in the Arab region. A language barrier is also apparent in countries that primarily use an Arabic interface on Facebook. The first is that the distribution of Twitter users in Egypt is primarily concentrated in Cairo (51% of Twitter users). especially given that the country has close to 7 million Facebook users and 17-18 million Internet users. This is coupled with a continued shift of usage trends from social into political nature across the region. and started adapting to the changes. While some governments tried to resist change. Given that Egypt’s Facebook users are evenly split between using Facebook’s Arabic and English interfaces. This report provides empirical evidence suggesting that the growth of social media in the region and the shift in usage trends have played a critical role in mobilization. No. The level of social media’s contribution to the buildup of the uprisings is still debatable. both with above . It is still early to make a final assessment about the role of social media in the Arab civil movements or the role they will be playing in changing the ways in which governments interact with societies in the region. while Tanta has 0. with the remaining 40% dispersed.8% of Twitter users. Countries with below-average Twitter user penetration The remaining Arab countries all have low Twitter user penetration (the majority of them under 0. the Internet or mobile networks altogether — a few were more responsive. given that mobile signups to Twitter have been increasing globally. also influenced the tweet volumes across the region.average Internet and Facebook penetration. This concentration of Twitter users in Cairo indicates that Twitter usage has not really caught on outside the capital.Users in the GCC countries above predominantly use Facebook’s English interface. given that the micro-blogging website does not offer an Arabic interface. levels of Internet and Facebook penetration seem to be a good indicator of Twitter usage. as evidenced by the top trends. as that has not been made available on Twitter yet. and influencing change. 2 .5% of Twitter users in each. Egypt particularly stands out. These more responsive governments tried to take advantage of the growth of social media usage among the mostly young population by putting new guidelines and policies in place. followed by Alexandria (8% of Twitter users). and to strangle the new forms of informational flows emerging in their societies — by blocking access to social media websites. A disinclination to use an English interface could contribute to lower numbers of Twitter users in these countries. There are two possible reasons for this. A critical mass of young and active social media users in the Arab world exists today. The second possible factor could be that Twitter has not yet offered an Arabic interface (initially scheduled for the first quarter of 2011). Arab governments’ reactions to this new phenomenon have been mixed. empowerment. such as Saudi Arabia and Palestine. One thing that is certain is that given the region’s young population and increasing penetration rates. Overall. 1.
Due to American technology export laws. Consequently. after February 7. Israel and Turkey. there aren›t many people joining or leaving Twitter across the sampling period. 2011). Sudan and Iran are estimates.706 Twitter users and 10. in the following age brackets—youth (15-29). This estimated population then includes all Twitter users who tweet at least once every two weeks. who tweeted at least once during the two week sampling process. and top trends in all 22 Arab countries. and adults (30 and over). This formula relies on several assumptions: 1.552. given that geo-locating services would return “Israel” for the entire country. dormant users were eliminated. a different daily growth was used to reflect the ensuing surge in growth number of Facebook users. and refined using Yahoo! and Google geo-locating services to adjust for any errors. respectively) were located through an online search. The real numbers of Facebook users in Syria and Iran (in November 2007 and June 2008. That the population does not significantly change between samples i. Users were then allocated to their correct countries using Twitter’s location search. Israel and Palestine specifically were difficult to allocate. It should be noted that for all charts in this paper. by estimating the size of this effect in every country and adjusting for it.e. 2011. Twitter data The number of Twitter users. The mark-recapture technique looks at the overlap between different samples in order to estimate the total size of a population. in addition to Iran.772 tweets. in addition to Iran. For Twitter users. That the sampling procedure does not have an effect on individual behaviors (in ecological sampling the act of capturing an animal might sometimes kill it). Raw data on for all Arab countries was collected using Facebook’s official internal data (Group A). while the numbers for remaining countries were compiled from official Facebook data. for consistency’s sake. Israel and Turkey. users’ self-described locations were used. even if they were “on Twitter holiday” and not actually captured in the sample. but people who tweeted had not been captured. estimating the size of a Twitter population was a simple two-step process: • • Capture a number of samples (or «sweeps») of users from each country Use a mark-recapture based technique to compute a population estimate Sweeps were done across all hours of the day over 2 one-week time periods (Sweep 1: 28/3/2011 to 4/4/2011 (09:00 GMT) Sweep 2: 6/4/2011 to 13/4/2011 (14:20 GMT)). These samples only included “active” tweeters. This rate was used to calculate the number of users in group B.Annex 1 Methodolgy Facebook Data The number of Facebook users in all 22 Arab countries. That all individuals in the population are equally likely to be captured Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 25 . This rate was based on the average daily growth rate in Yemen. was collected periodically between January 5 and April 5. 2011 by retrospectively sampling 190. was estimated between January 1 and March 30. for which data had to be found from a source other than the Facebook. the numbers of Facebook users in Syria. specifically. Sudan and Iran for advertising purposes. to ensure a smaller error margin than using the growth rates of similar countries for each individual country. number of tweets. This was estimated based on the surge in number of Facebook users in Egypt after the Internet was unblocked on February 2. For Syria. so all Sudan data was estimated using the Arab daily growth rate (calculated from the Group A countries between January 5 and April 5. In addition. Facebook does not provide data on the number of users in Syria. when social media sites were no longer banned. 3. In this case. 2011. 2. a one-off factor was added to the calculation of the Syria growth rate after lifting the ban on social media website on February 7. no such data for Sudan was found. The mark-recapture technique uses the standard Lincoln-Petersen formula for mark-recapture population estimation. which has a similar ICT and socio-economic indicators as Syria and witnessed an uprising influenced by Facebook as well. The study was conducted using a specially developed Twitter API. excluding Syria and Sudan (Group B). Corrections were also made for unresolved locations.
and it is the average tweets-per-day excluding people who post more than once an hour or less than once every couple of days.200 messages for each user across the three-month time period (analyzing over 10 million messages in total for all sampled users). 25 Comoros.200 messages at a much faster rate than other users. as well as Twitter-specific words such as “RT”. No.000. 2 . as some Twitter users are much more prolific than others. rather than the sum of day-to-day volumes. Yemen 26 Arab Social Media Report Vol. Somalia. Average daily number of tweets per person was calculated for each country. Word frequency calculation was used to come up with most popular trends. 24 The total volume of tweets was calculated using the estimated number of daily tweets for each region. while the third assumption does not hold for message-based sampling. For volume of tweets and trend analysis.The first two assumptions are valid in this case.e. corrected for the increased likelihood of being picked up in a sweep if one is more active). the estimates were corrected for heterogeneity (i. Syria. Palestine. A list of “stopwords” or commonly used words such as “the” and “some” were excluded in both Arabic and English. Consequently. It is worth noting that the samples used to estimate the volume of tweets24 and top trends in each country were different to the samples used to estimate the Twitter populations. 1. Iran. The former samples sizes are smaller . as it was not possible to trace back through the entire period. rather than a straight average which will include outliers and bots. This methodology claims that this is a better representation of what the “normal” Twitter uses tweets daily. given that the high volume for tweets they generated “used up” the allotted 3. while the Arabic list contained over 13. the Twitter users’ posting history or “timeline” was traced back to at most 3. This had to be adjusted for more prolific users. Libya. and therefore their results should be treated with caution. which are approximations estimated from smaller samples and the data can be quite noisy. The English list contained around 700 words.with certain countries25 having sample sizes of under 100. Mauritania.
ilo.01 26.960 326.748 4.56 3.345 24.28 0.65 2.27 1.22 1.42 13.280 4.918 535.37 13.600 313.77 40.640 165.266.622 893.824 1.31 1.51 25.010 124.116.600 21.59 14.247 2.75 -1.380 Growth in number of Facebook users since 1/5/2011 (%) 40.37 Number of New Facebook users since 1/5/2011 560.81 26.059 4.953.287.75 2.95 New Facebook users since 1/5/2011 (as % of population) 1.900 302.25 25.780 845.21 2.27 11.440 277.63 29.300 724.843 85.75 5.203.10 0.23 0.080 52.01 1.89 7.06 0.620 14.480 2.51 -6.11 6.83 1.840 595.268 10.140 3.623 356.800 Population* 35.947.15 0.120 340.65 Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 27 .586.542.577 6.100 1.571.940 9.24 21.605.092.740 1.01 4.720 -30.78 9.780 102.43 9.50 1.49 50.598.008.40 0.440 795. http://laborsta.660 1.800 6.55 22.535 23.96 3.943.28 5.120 481.73 0.610 6.670.16 0.78 9.260 723.01 1.420 71.08 1.24 28.500 65.10 30.811.73 57.23 30.42 36.640 291.950 Facebook penetration (%) 5.12 82.928 3.820 101.74 -2.63 15.300 22.356.510 706.55 26.org/ See Figure 12 for rankings using official GCC population data Number of Facebook users Country Algeria Bahrain Comoros Djibouti Egypt Iraq Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Libya Mauritania Morocco Oman Palestine Qatar Saudi Arabia Somalia Sudan Syria Tunisia UAE Yemen (4/5/2011) 1.63 -71.480 161.613 9.964.48 42.04 219.42 29.45 5.940 -182.103.18 44.Annex 2 Data Tables on Facebook and Twitter in the Arab Region Table 4: Facebook Users and Country Populations in the Arab World *2011 populations.300 32.053 32.989 822. from United Nations ILO Department of Statistics.402.189 44.440.520 26.770.476.660 6.355 4.852 2.093.520 2.23 29.66 2.820 25.951.840 61.580 443.19 2.406.78 89.950.777.420 113.615 3.
542.928 3.476.209 115.103.459 40.407 17.000 3.34 4.625 55.18 0.746 201.000 2.000 880 990 8.100 34.890.790. No.000 639.100 41.204 21.000 81.615 3.989 822.46 0.250.300 32.85 3.690.07 0.020 35.964.12 0.350.943.000 3.000 25.520 26.266.053 32.235 61.369 133.000 Estimated Number of Daily Tweets (Avg.748 4.000 10. 2011) 252.800 910 7.12 Estimated Twitter Volume (cumulative: Jan 1st through March 30th.008.000 342.244 9.000 729.859 113.000 10. 2 . between Jan 1st and March 30th.622 893.422 Population* 35.800 15.02 0.896 834 4.059 4.85 0.63 1.100 783.Table 5: Volume of Tweets and Twitter users in the Arab region between Jan 1 and March 30 *2011 populations.15 0.268 10.189 44.571. between Jan 1st and Country Algeria Bahrain Comoros Djibouti Egypt Iraq Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Libya Mauritania Morocco Oman Palestine Qatar Saudi Arabia Somalia Sudan Syria Tunisia UAE Yemen March 30th.679 188.8.131.52 0.535 23.287.852 2.060 29.384 6.100 28 Arab Social Media Report Vol.345 24.000 2.953.510 706.400 31. http://laborsta.060.000 79.084 4.000 1. between Jan 1st and March 30th.ilo.843 85.25 8.04 0.000 11.670.777. 2011) 13.440.605.04 0.43 0.163 63.200 2.919 1.800 7.000 1.577 6.000 120 680 24.53 0.45 0.613 9.05 0.org/ See Figure 22 for rankings using official GCC population data Estimated Number of Twitter Users (Avg.96 0.23 0.000 990.000 576. 2011) 0.598.046 131.811.000 3.950 Twitter penetration (Avg.000 8.428 79.950. 2011) 2.800 61.000 21.200 89. from United Nations ILO Department of Statistics.770.800 252.355 4. 1.700 6.000 120 2.824 1.610 6.900 639.04 7.
369 133.12 0.13 18.00 3.04 7.586.01 1.22 1.47 53.900 302.840 61.00 9.63 15.060 29.280 4.260 723.679 11.59 77.89 7.402.660 6.96 Mobile Subscriptions per 100 ** 93.746 201.00 36.62 175.204 21.100 1.00 1.859 113.093.625 55.28 41.203.01 1.16 9.29 45.90 66.37 Internet users per 100 ** 13.440 795.85 3.600 21.235 61.itu.520 2. Internet and Mobile Subscription Rates in the Arab Region*2011 populations.43 0.46 0. between Country Algeria Bahrain Comoros Djibouti Egypt Iraq Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Libya Mauritania Morocco Oman Palestine Qatar Saudi Arabia Somalia Sudan Syria Tunisia UAE Yemen Jan 1st and March 30th.34 4.428 79.407 17.85 56.120 481.02 36.int/ITU-D/ICTEYE/Indicators/Indicators.947.420 71.15 0.08 1.32 79.084 4.00 38.06 26.83 1.78 9.080 52.78 9. Twitter.17 0.05 0.07 75. http://laborsta.37 13.40 174.07 35.68 5.14 95.26 1.580 443.85 23.38 232.69 64.18 0. 2011) 13.24 21.020 35.840 595.30 51.919 1.org/ See Figure 12 and Figure 21 for rankings using official GCC population data ** ITU statistics 2009 http://www.10 30.244 9.25 25.79 177.50 32.28 5.49 50.50 1.63 1.55 22.896 834 4.140 3.23 0.45 0.28 0.120 340.440 277.422 Twitter penetration* (%) 0.54 28.ilo.11 139.04 0.19 20.459 40. from *2011 populations.42 36.25 Civil Movements: The Impact of Facebook and Twitter 29 .59 3.940 9.66 2.40 34.25 8.247 2.22 129.163 63.384 6.94 66.092.53 0.046 131.23 40.406.49 14.00 24.02 0.209 115.Table 6: Facebook.85 0.96 0.43 7.51 2. from United Nations ILO Department of Statistics.51 25.623 356.800 Facebook penetration* (%) 5.12 Number of Facebook users (4/5/2011) 1.356.740 1.57 95.07 0.aspx Estimated Number of Active Twitter Users (Avg.04 0.
Racha Mourtada is a Research Associate in the Governance and Innovation Program in the Dubai School of Government Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge the efforts of the following individuals and entities in providing invaluable contributions. Regional Development Activities: The Program brings together a regional network of practitioners and scholars working in related areas through programmatic and educational activities. the School is developing strong capabilities to support research and teaching programs. Saleha BuKattara.dsg. master’s degrees in public policy and public administration. Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. promoting participatory. Dubai School of Government. To achieve this mission. 2 .ac.ae. in order to encourage proactive regional knowledge sharing and bridge the gap between policy and research. Box 72229 Dubai. No. Daniel Winterstein. The objectives of the program are aligned with stated regional governments’ objectives towards nurturing a culture of innovation in society. inclusive and transparent government models. and. • About Dubai School of Government The Dubai School of Government (DSG) is a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world. knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers. Policy Advisory: The ultimate objective of the Program is to inform present and future Arab policy makers in assessing the impact of the ongoing transformations in their societies and governments. The School is committed to the creation of knowledge. Illath. BNK Infotech. officers and other staff of the Dubai School of Government. executive education for senior officials and executives. the School organizes policy forums and international conferences to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote critical debate on public policy in the Arab world. the Dubai School of Government also collaborates with regional and global institutions in delivering its research and training programs. DSG aims to promote good governance through enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy. and enabling more responsive and efficient governance through effective adoption of information technologies. and to help develop locally fitting policies for future governance initiatives. Toward this goal. © 2011 Dubai School of Government About DSG’s Governance and Innovation Program The Governance and Innovation Program at DSG conducts research and programmatic activities focusing on policies for government innovation and development through information technologies in the Arab states. In addition.O. The program works on three tracks: • • Policy and Scholarly Research: Conducting research focusing on government policies and societal transformation through technological innovation in the Arab region. Level 13. Convention Tower. Fax: 971-4-329-3291 Email: info@dsg. including • • • • applied research in public policy and management. United Arab Emirates Tel: 971-4-329-3290. Established in 2005 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School. P. 1. Jineesh M. Joe Halliwel & Selma Nagbou The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the trustees. www.ae 30 Arab Social Media Report Vol.This report is produced by DSG’s Governance and Innovation Program and co-authored by Racha Mourtada and Fadi Salem: Fadi Salem is a Fellow and Director of the Governance and Innovation Program in the Dubai School of Government. the dissemination of best practice and the training of policy makers in the Arab world. input and assistance into the report and its related materials: Stephen Brannon.
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