Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2016
16 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017
Date Written: December 7, 2016
This report is the fifth in a series of annual reports which captures key developments and data related to usage of social media in the Middle East.
The past year has seen the continued growth of visual-led social networks, especially in the more affluent Gulf region. Meanwhile, the discernible growth in mobile social users ( 66% notes the creative agency We Are Social) emphasizes the increasing primacy of the mobile social experience. For many users, mobile is the only way that they interact with social networks. Mobile platforms, for millions in the region, will also offer their first online experience.
Recognizing this, companies like Facebook have launched Facebook Lite, an Android app targeting users on slow networks (and with small data plans). Their Free Basics program allows customers on the Zain network in Jordan and AsiaCell, Korek and Zain in Iraq avoid data charges when using Facebook on their mobile devices. Will other providers follow suit?
Yet, for all the positives, the social experience in some parts of the region remains beset with challenges. Networks and services can be blocked – both temporarily and permanently – and issues around freedom of expression persist.
These dimensions, alongside growth stories and statistics, are explored in this paper.
Keywords: Social Media, Social Networking, Arab Spring, Middle East, MENA, Middle East and North Africa, Arab World, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Mobile, YouTube, Video Content, Media Habits, Media Consumption, Social News, Second Screen, Internet Governance, Network Society
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