Social Media in the Middle East: Social News Consumption the Norm for Arab Youth 

This is the seventh in a series of ten short extracts from my sixth annual round-up of social media trends from the Middle East and North Africa (written with University of Oregon student Amanda Lam). Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2017 is available for download from the University of Oregon Scholars’ Bank and on Scribd, SlideShare and Academia.edu.

  • Social Networks are a popular means to keep abreast of the news, in the Middle East, as elsewhere, although there are major differences across age groups and countries.
    • Facebook is the most popular source for news among young Arabs. The annual Arab Youth survey found 35% of respondents get news on Facebook each day, ahead of online sources (31%), TV news channels and newspapers (9%).
    • Arab men and women aged 18 to 24 are also increasingly more likely to share news stories on Facebook. Although frequency wasn’t identified, 64% of this cohort stated they’d shared stories on the social network, up from 41% just two years ago.
Image: Use of Facebook. Source: Arab Youth Survey, 2017
  • Northwestern University in Qatar’s “Media Use in the Middle East” survey, meanwhile, demonstrated national variances in social news usage. Overall, 40% of Arab Nationals in the six countries they studied said they got news from Facebook, ahead of WhatsApp (28%) and YouTube (28%).
    • Notable national variances include Instagram leading the pack in Qatar (used by 47% of nationals) as a news source and WhatsApp’s popularity for news (45%) in Saudi Arabia.
Image: Top social networks for news. Source: Northwestern University in Qatar
  • Twitter, is the leading social network to get and share news, an activity 77% of MENA tweeps engage in. However, with only 20% penetration, the network lags behind many others as a news platform used by the overall population.
Image: Top social networks for news, based on users of each platform. Source: Northwestern University in Qatar.

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