Analysis: Social Media in the Arab World

The article that I am analysing, is one that relates to my research report- activism within social media. It is titled; Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011. The report discusses the use of social media in the Arab world and how this contributes to the events that were unfolding during the time as well as the challenges and limitation imposed by the authoritarian governments.

The report takes a close look at the online presence of the Arab World and how the social media sites, in particular Facebook, are starting to make changes in the way people are discovering, sharing and communicating information.
The report is split into many sections of research, covering the areas of:

  • Social Media and Challenges to Free Expression
  • Online News Gaining Readers
  • Social Media’s Youth Focus
  • Social Media and Social Unrest
  • The Debate About U.S. Support of Social Media
  • Tweeting Royals and Digital Ministers
  • Social Media’s Long-Term Impact

The research report is conducted by Jeffrey Ghannam and is a report that is directed towards the Center for International Media Assistance who work for evolution and change in the fields of news media and communications.

Fig 1. 'Social media use in the Arab world': http://onmedia.dw-akademie.de/english/files/tahrir-handy.jpeg
Fig 1. ‘Social media use in the Arab world’: http://onmedia.dw-akademie.de/english/files/tahrir-handy.jpeg

“From Morocco to Bahrain, the Arab world has witnessed the rise of an independent vibrant social media and steadily increasing citizen engagement on the Internet.” (Ghannam, 2011)

Although the report was initially developed for media development it has also been helpful for many academics and researchers who are interested in the topic. It also informs the general public, allowing them to see the effects and power that social media use had on bringing about social and political change in the Arab world. It provides relevant and interesting information that allows the reader to gain knowledge on the issue and think about the effect that social media has on the world around them.
The report was published at a time where the Arab countries were rapidly uprising, with events such as the ‘Arab Springs‘. A topic in which many people were interested in.

Fig 2. 'Social media statistics': http://snd1.splashpress1.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/4.png
Fig 2. ‘Social media statistics’: http://snd1.splashpress1.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/4.png

The research used was mainly qualitative data. They used this for findings of social media usage in the Arab World and used these statistics to draw conclusions and make predictions for the future. The basis of the report relays many statistics  that contribute to the research question. It is an element in which they can measure and create results from.  Qualitative data is assessed through the use of case studies within the report. Using both these elements creates a report that is factual and accurate. Although, the report could contain more qualitative data in the form of research.

The report includes a key findings page in which goes into detail through analysing and evaluating the data that had been collected. It also includes an appendix where the raw statistics are presented. The report draws on events that are occurring during the period of times and uses the statistics to relate to these.

“Just as Arab satellite channels helped revolutionize broadcast news, social media is arguably changing the nature of news and community engagement.” Ghannam (2011)

Overall, the report is very informative and interesting. Ghannam touches on many different topics throughout the report in which a reader can easily navigate. It provides a good general overview of many aspects of social media activism in the Middle East.

For those of you who are interested in the topic, there are many complimentary articles that can be found on the internet. Here is also a video, explain a lot about activism and social media in the Arab World:


References

Ghannam J, 2011, ‘Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011’, The Center for International Media Assistance, viewed 25th March, <http://www.databank.com.lb/docs/Social%20Media%20in%20the%20Arab%20World%20Leading%20up%20to%20the%20Uprisings%20of%202011.pdf&gt;

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