Facebook and Twitter key to Arab Spring uprisings: report



DUBAI // The most popular Twitter hashtags in the Arab region in the first three months of this year were “Egypt”, “Jan25”, “Libya”, “Bahrain” and “protest”.

Nearly 9 in 10 Egyptians and Tunisians surveyed in March said they were using Facebook to organise protests or spread awareness about them.

All but one of the protests called for on Facebook ended up coming to life on the streets.

These and other findings from the newly released second edition of the Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Government give empirical heft to the conventional wisdom that Facebook and Twitter abetted if not enabled the historic region-wide uprisings of early 2011.

In part by using the social networking sites, activists organised and publicised the unprecedented protests that gave rise to the so-called Arab Spring, which has so far seen longtime governments in Egypt and Tunisia fall, regimes in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain clash with the opposition, and leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE offer more benefits to their populace.
Social media – its rise and its new activist uses – have "played a critical role in mobilisation, empowerment, shaping opinions and influencing change," the report said.

Just how integral its role was has been debated, it said, “with some camps labelling them the main instigators and others relegating them to mere tools.”

“Regardless, it can be stated that many of the calls to protest in the Arab region were initially made on Facebook,” it said. “As the initial platform for these calls, it cannot be denied that they were factor in mobilising movements.”

Facebook usage swelled in the Arab region between January and April and sometimes more than doubled, the report found.

Overall, the number of users jumped by 30 per cent to 27.7m, compared with 18 per cent growth during the same period in 2010. In the past year, the number of users has nearly doubled from 14.8m.

Usage in Bahrain grew 15 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared with 6 per cent over the same period last year.

Egypt saw 29 per cent growth compared to 12 per cent last year.

Tunisia had 17 per cent growth compared to 10 per cent last year.

The exception was Libya, where usage fell by 76 per cent. One possible reason is that many there have fled amidst fierce fighting between the regime and rebels.

During the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, the vast majority of 200-plus people surveyed over three weeks in March said they were getting their information from social media sites (88 per cent in Egypt and 94 per cent in Tunisia).

This outnumbered those who turned to non-government local media (63 per cent in Egypt and 86 per cent in Tunisia) and to foreign media (57 per cent in Egypt and 48 per cent in Tunisia).

On Twitter, the hashtag "Egypt" had 1.4 million mentions in the three months of the year. Other hashtags – which are essentially search terms – "Jan25" had 1.2m mentions; "Libya" had 990,000; "Bahrain" had 640,000; and "protest" had 620,000.
The flurry of tweets spiralled during the turning points of the uprisings.

In Tunisia they peaked around the January 14 protest start date. In Egypt they spiked around February 11 when longtime President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. And in Bahrain they jumped in the days after the demonstrations began on February 14.

Government attempts to ban such sites ended up backfiring, the survey of Egyptians and Tunisians found.

Just over a quarter of those polled (28 per cent in Egypt and 29 per cent in Tunisia) said the blocking of Facebook disrupted their efforts to organise and communicate.

But more than half (56 per cent in Egypt and 59 per cent in Tunisia) said it had a positive effect, motivating them to press on and mobilising newcomers.

The authorities’ efforts to block out information, the report said, ended up “spurring people to be more active, decisive and to find ways to be more creative about communicating and organising”.

Find the second edition of the Arab Social Media Report here

chuang@thenational.ae

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The biog

Favourite pet: cats. She has two: Eva and Bito

Favourite city: Cape Town, South Africa

Hobby: Running. "I like to think I’m artsy but I’m not".

Favourite move: Romantic comedies, specifically Return to me. "I cry every time".

Favourite spot in Abu Dhabi: Saadiyat beach

Company Profile

Company name: Yeepeey

Started: Soft launch in November, 2020

Founders: Sagar Chandiramani, Jatin Sharma and Monish Chandiramani

Based: Dubai

Industry: E-grocery

Initial investment: $150,000

Future plan: Raise $1.5m and enter Saudi Arabia next year

RESULT

Wolves 1 (Traore 67')

Tottenham 2 (Moura 8', Vertonghen 90+1')

Man of the Match: Adama Traore (Wolves)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Profile

Company: Justmop.com

Date started: December 2015

Founders: Kerem Kuyucu and Cagatay Ozcan

Sector: Technology and home services

Based: Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai

Size: 55 employees and 100,000 cleaning requests a month

Funding:  The company’s investors include Collective Spark, Faith Capital Holding, Oak Capital, VentureFriends, and 500 Startups. 

The story of Edge

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, established Edge in 2019.

It brought together 25 state-owned and independent companies specialising in weapons systems, cyber protection and electronic warfare.

Edge has an annual revenue of $5 billion and employs more than 12,000 people.

Some of the companies include Nimr, a maker of armoured vehicles, Caracal, which manufactures guns and ammunitions company, Lahab

 

If you go

  • The nearest international airport to the start of the Chuysky Trakt is in Novosibirsk. Emirates (www.emirates.com) offer codeshare flights with S7 Airlines (www.s7.ru) via Moscow for US$5,300 (Dh19,467) return including taxes. Cheaper flights are available on Flydubai and Air Astana or Aeroflot combination, flying via Astana in Kazakhstan or Moscow. Economy class tickets are available for US$650 (Dh2,400).
  • The Double Tree by Hilton in Novosibirsk (+7 383 2230100,) has double rooms from US$60 (Dh220). You can rent cabins at camp grounds or rooms in guesthouses in the towns for around US$25 (Dh90).
  • The transport Minibuses run along the Chuysky Trakt but if you want to stop for sightseeing, hire a taxi from Gorno-Altaisk for about US$100 (Dh360) a day. Take a Russian phrasebook or download a translation app. Tour companies such as Altair-Tour (+7 383 2125115 ) offer hiking and adventure packages.
Five famous companies founded by teens

There are numerous success stories of teen businesses that were created in college dorm rooms and other modest circumstances. Below are some of the most recognisable names in the industry:

  1. Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg and his friends started Facebook when he was a 19-year-old Harvard undergraduate. 
  2. Dell: When Michael Dell was an undergraduate student at Texas University in 1984, he started upgrading computers for profit. He starting working full-time on his business when he was 19. Eventually, his company became the Dell Computer Corporation and then Dell Inc. 
  3. Subway: Fred DeLuca opened the first Subway restaurant when he was 17. In 1965, Mr DeLuca needed extra money for college, so he decided to open his own business. Peter Buck, a family friend, lent him $1,000 and together, they opened Pete’s Super Submarines. A few years later, the company was rebranded and called Subway. 
  4. Mashable: In 2005, Pete Cashmore created Mashable in Scotland when he was a teenager. The site was then a technology blog. Over the next few decades, Mr Cashmore has turned Mashable into a global media company.
  5. Oculus VR: Palmer Luckey founded Oculus VR in June 2012, when he was 19. In August that year, Oculus launched its Kickstarter campaign and raised more than $1 million in three days. Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion two years later.
PETER PAN & WENDY

Director: David Lowery

Stars: Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Joshua Pickering

Rating: 3/5

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

Copa del Rey final

Sevilla v Barcelona, Saturday, 11.30pm (UAE), match on Bein Sports

JOKE'S ON YOU

Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".


The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today