This report is the eighth in an annual series of publications, dating back to 2012, designed to share the latest stories, trends and research in social media usage from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Using a wide variety of academic, industry and media sources, this White Paper identifies important insights from social media’s development over the previous year.
Of particular note in 2019 is the continued, growing, importance of social media in the lives of Arab Youth, outside of Saudi Arabia and Turkey the declining usage of Twitter (once the poster child social network for the Arab Spring,) as well as greater scrutiny of social media usage by platform owners and governments alike.
Last year’s report highlighted the increasing weaponization of social networks, a trend which continued in 2019. Facebook, Twitter and Telegram each closed hundreds of accounts due to inappropriate use by state sponsored actors and terrorist groups. Social networks were also the target of governments across MENA, in the midst of protests in many countries throughout the region.
Meanwhile, the importance of social video and visually-led social networks, continued to grow from strength to strength. Snapchat introduced new advertising formats to the region and other exclusive functionality, Google highlighted the importance of YouTube in supporting parents and parenting, and in major markets such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Twitter has emerged as a leading platform for online video consumption.
The year ahead is likely to result in a continuation of many of the trends outlined in this report, as social media becomes increasingly engrained across the lives of businesses, governments and residents across the MENA region.
It is authored by Professor Damian Radcliffe, and PhD student Hadil Abuhmaid, at the University of Oregon.