Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Everyone’s talking about Facebook ... even in Arabia

I don’t need to tell you about the Facebook revolution. But, maybe we can delve into some interesting statistics regarding Facebook users and then we’ll touch on the topics of privacy and Facebook being blocked in ‘certain countries’.

The well-known technology blog, TechCrunch (www.techcrunch.com) published a table of facts about Facebook members in 32 countries - Last week I found it, and it seems the page has now been 'retired' - sorry no link!

Anyway, over all, 63% of Facebook users are women, while only 36% are men!

Even in the digital world, ladies are more interested in connecting with friends and family, they are more likely to stay in touch and to check in on those they care for. It seems harsh, but men are just different. This is not a sexist statement, look at the evidence!

Arab countries featured include UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt. Regrettably, the study does not include numbers from Jordan, but neighboring Arab countries could be indicative.

Onto the UAE, the Arabic country with the highest Internet penetration, there are 196,880 Facebook users of which 75,000 are males and 121,000 are females.

In Egypt, the country with the highest population in the region but relatively low Internet penetration, there are 396,000 Facebook users of which 147,000 are males and 249,000 are females.

In Lebanon, a middle-ground country in penetration and population, there are 169,000 Facebook users of which 59,000 are males and 110,000 are females.
And Saudi Arabia, the number in total is quite low for such a large and relatively wealthy country. There are only 120,000 Facebook users of which 47,000 are males and 73,000 are females. So, you see, even in Saudi Arabia the impact of woman on Facebook is clear - I’ll be getting some comments about this statement!

So, for all Arab countries, the percentages of male users are in the 30s and females are in the 60s, which fits the global profile. Jordan is probably the same.
Onto why numbers of Facebook users may be low in some Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia.

Apart from social conservatism, there’s the matter of site blocks that are somewhat erratic. Authorities may, at any time, decide that Facebook is being used by social or political groups to promote unacceptable ideas or controversial causes; and accordingly block it.

Just look at what happened in Syria this month, where authorities blocked Facebook for now apparent reason leaving tens of thousands of users stranded without their Facebook buddies!

Why can’t everyone just understand that no one can, and no one will, stop the Internet from carrying ideas to people. A famous Arab cinema director, whose movies are usually censored or banned, once said that “ideas have wings that fly though any barriers to reach the people.” The Internet epitomizes this, as does the mobile content channel and other new age avenues of information.

So, maybe it’s the best of times and the worst of times to be a Facebook user in ‘Arabia’. However, you are guaranteed an interesting journey!

zanasser@gmail.com

4 Comments:

At 7:22 PM , Blogger Khaled Al-Sharif said...

Why did Syria block Facebook?

 
At 7:34 PM , Blogger Ad Blog said...

I'm assuming because it's a way to organize people in groups behind causes.

That would be an unlicensed form of gathering :)

 
At 3:24 PM , Blogger Psg said...

God !!! blocking facebook ?! what's next ?? youtube ?!! Google ??!!!
thank God for Proxy services !!! i hope Syrian people learn how to use it :)

 
At 1:12 AM , Anonymous Alaa Abdelhaq said...

63% are women and i cant get 1 single woman!!
thats weired!!

 

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