The Middle East is So Over Facebook

Published October 2nd, 2017 - 08:50 GMT
Courtesy of Pixabay
Courtesy of Pixabay
  • Facebook usage is down 18% among users in the Middle East
  • Twitter too is down 20%
  • Snapchat and Instagram are both up massive margins, replacing the giants of Facebook and Instagram
  • Middle East social media is favoring peer-to-peer image sharing more and more 


By Ty Joplin


We all must have missed the memo on how Facebook is becoming less cool, but a recent Northwestern University in Qatar study reveals that Middle Eastern millennials are tuning out of famed social media app. According to the study, Facebook usage dropped a stark 18% from 2013 to 2017, from 89% to 71%.

Facebook, one of the main social media tools to organize and execute the Arab Spring, seems to have fallen out of fashion.

In contrast, Instagram shot up from 7% to 42% over the same period of time. And Snapchat, which was started in 2015, is up to 31%.  

Both Instagram and Snapchat favor a more instant, visual style of sharing content than Facebook, which allows people to argue endlessly about politics in the comments of Al Jazeera article links.

The study seems to corroborate a larger trend that revealed by the rapid rise of Twitter, that quicker-pace, shorter means of communication is better than longer, slower, and more permanent messages.

Surprisingly though, Twitter use also declined from 48% to 28%, perhaps indicating that, in addition to quicker, shorter messages, peer-to-peer contact is becoming more favored over messages transmitted to the entire world.

Overall, internet usage increased in all seven countries studied: Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Tunisia,  Saudi, and Egypt.



The study also found that while people in the Middle East are using social media more than ever, trust in what they see from such platforms remains low. About a third of the respondents to the survey report that they have very little to no trust at all in the news and information they receive on social media platforms.

This finding closely mirrors a different study conducted in 2015  by on social media in the Middle East, where people said that while they view social media usages as an useful and beneficial tool for quality of life, businesses, and interacting with their respective governments, they also do not trust what they see on their social media platforms.

People also seem to be worried that increased use of social media hurts local traditions and culture.

Fear of government and corporate monitoring is also a prevalent concern among internet users in the Middle East: 39% are worried about government interference while slightly more (43%) report to be worried about corporate surveillance.

In comparison, a similar study conducted on U.S. Americans found that a majority (66%) of them report to trust the news they receive from their social media platforms.

In the Era of Fake News, is the Middle East more info-savvy than the United States?

It looks like the old bastions of revolution are being replaced by peer-to-peer image sharing platforms. The revolutions of the future will be viewable right next to videos of your friends’ ugly cats.

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