Facebook beats TV as the top news source for young Arabs
According to the Arab Youth Survey 2017, published recently by leading global public relations and communication firm ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, showed that 35 percent of young Arabs rely on Facebook to get their daily news compared to 31 who read the daily news online and 30 percent who watch news TV channels. Newspapers fall largely behind with only 9 percent.
In addition to using Facebook as a main news source, many young Arabs also resort to to share news stories they find interesting, with 64 percent of them sharing topical stories on the platform, as opposed to 52 percent in 2016 and just 41 percent in 2015.
These figures only come to further confirm Arab youth’s increasing reliance on social media in the course of their daily life. “In terms of overall popularity, Facebook and WhatsApp are tied as the most popular social media channels, with 68 percent of young Arabs checking the platforms daily, an increase of 13 points and 6 points respectively from last year,” the survey report reads.
And with Facebook’s statistically proven transition from social networking site to news aggregator comes a parallel transition for WhatsApp from a free instant messaging app to a larger means of news dissemination and mass communication, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, video-sharing platform YouTube is viewed by half of young Arabs on a daily basis and Facebook-owned Instagram is witnessing a unprecedented surge in daily use, which has jumped to 48 percent from just 28 percent last year.
But with the proliferation of clickbait and lack of proper social media awareness in the region, it is more imperative than ever for young Arabs to dig deeper into the information that is being delivered to them algorithmically in order to be rightfully informed about the latest news updates and thus better equipped to form informed opinions about current issues.