For journalist Farihan Al Hassan, spending hours each day on Facebook is not merely a pastime, but rather a personal and professional “must” to keep up with friends and readers and to promote her work. “I consider it my main tool for keeping in touch with my friends and even posting the articles I write to hear my friends’ opinion about them,” said Hassan, the editor of Al Ghad newspaper’s lifestyle department. While other writers reach out to fans and promote themselves on Twitter, Hassan finds Facebook, her social media tool of choice, easier to use. “I tried using Twitter, but I did not find it as user-friendly,” she noted, adding that she is able to organise her network of friends more easily on Facebook. “Twitter settings are too complicated.” In addition, the journalist pointed out, Twitter is seen as a tool for politicians and other elite public figures, which she said discouraged her from using it. “Facebook is used more by ordinary people, so I felt more into using it… I hardly use Twitter,” she told The Jordan Times.
Mahmoud Salah, a salesman, agreed with Hassan. “I found Twitter boring. Most users tweet about politics and the economy, but it is different with Facebook. Sometimes I can’t stop laughing at the issues being discussed sarcastically there,” said Salah, who has a Twitter account but has stopped using it. These users’ experiences reflect the findings of a recent study about the use of social media in the Arab world.
The report, issued by the Dubai School of Government, showed that 1,923,780 Jordanians are on Facebook — over 50 times more than the Kingdom’s 36,900 Twitter users. Jordan ranked second in the Arab region after the UAE in population penetration of Facebook, and sixth in population penetration of Twitter.
Overall, the report indicated that there are 1,311,882 Arab users on Twitter and 43 million users on Facebook. Social media consultant and trainer Khaled El Ahmad said the results of the study were not surprising, as the majority of social media users in Jordan are university students, who tend to prefer Facebook. He also seconded Hassan’s point that Twitter is considered an “elite” tool. “Twitter is being used by decision makers and the media, so the number of users is much lower,” he said.