In the digital era, networking is the key for most campaigns in politics, the corporate world or amongst peers. Messaging systems and persuasion techniques undergo change as you read these lines. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube imagery are the most common in the Western world, other networks were developed to serve the same needs in the East, such as Sina Weibo in China, Orkut in India or Mixi in Japan. And they are evolving fast, since they are associated with the free flow of information that boosts peoples’ organisation towards common interests and goals.
According to a white paper by ComScore, social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide; the field hosts 1.5 billion people whilst social networking behavior both transcends and reflects regional differences around the world.
At the end of 2011, there were around 18.2 million Facebook users in the Middle East, namely around 8.4% of a total population of 216.2 million (total internet users reached 78.6 million, 35.7% of the population).
Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, correspondent in the Middle East wrote that the defining moment that unites Egypt with Tunisia, Bahrain and Libya is a young woman or a young man with a smartphone. In Egypt, details of demonstrations were circulated by both Facebook and Twitter and the activists’ 12-page guide to confronting the regime was distributed by email.
Micro-blogging is gaining ground amongst web-enabled public figures. Fb-status updates and Tweets are increasingly replacing TV soundbites in the subjective recording of timeliness. Regular news stories incorporate more and more of that. Special stories are written on tweeted reactions of prominent people to events and sayings of others.
In 2008 in the US, Barak Obama used the Internet to target youth of 18 to 29 years olds, the age group most reliant on new media for information about politics and election. A few years later in northern Africa, crowds used the same means to target authority, calling for change.
Dr. Demetris Kamaras is the Editor of AlYunaniya.com