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

Damian Radcliffe
Jun 19, 2018 · 2 min read

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.

Damian Radcliffe

Research, analysis, teaching materials and journalistic output by the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor of Journalism at the University of Oregon

Damian Radcliffe

Written by

Chambers Professor in Journalism @uoregon | Fellow @TowCenter @CardiffJomec @theRSAorg | Write @wnip @ZDNet | Host Demystifying Media podcast https://itunes.app

Damian Radcliffe

Research, analysis, teaching materials and journalistic output by the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor of Journalism at the University of Oregon

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