Survey: Arab Internet users most politically outspoken worldwide

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, December 13, 2012

Arab users of social media are the most politically vocal on social networks worldwide, despite less access to the Internet, American think tank the Pew Research Center revealed Wednesday.

A survey of 20 nations regarding Internet and social media usage found that networkers in Middle Eastern countries were almost twice more likely than average to discuss politics than in other countries.

The survey results give considerable credence to near-worldwide consensus that the Internet, and social networks in particular, were major driving forces in protests that have swept the Arab world over the last two years leading to massive overhauls in governance. Four Arab dictators were ousted by the protests.

While a world-wide median 34 percent of social network users said they shared political views online, the numbers rose to 60 percent and above for respondents in Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.

More than seven out of ten polled in these countries also said they used social media to discuss community issues.

Over 60 percent of Arab respondents said they talked about religion on social networks, with the notable exception of Lebanon, where only eight percent said the same.

Image titleSurvey results show a gap in discussion topics on social media between Middle Eastern countries and other nations in the study.

These results are particularly significant given the gap in Internet access between countries. On average, an estimated 54 percent of respondents had access to Internet, compared to 39 percent in Middle Eastern countries involved in the study.

Use of social networking sites varies by education level, with double-digit differences between those with a college degree and those without in 15 of 18 countries.

The widest gap is found in Egypt, where 81 percent of those with a college degree use social networking sites, compared with just 18 percent of those with less education.

(Al-Akhbar)

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