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Facebook more popular than all Arab newspapers 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Middle East.
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The BBC reports that Facebook now has some 15 million subscribers across the Arab world; a million more than all newspapers – Arabic, English and French – put together. This is, of course, no great surprise. Not only is the standard of Middle Eastern journalism fairly abysmal [as I’ve argued here, here, here and here] but given the youth bulge in many Middle Eastern societies not to mention the generally closed-off nature of civil society and other forms of expression, meeting, etc, and Facebook is tailor-made for the region.

This kind of growth will be perturbing some of the region’s less enlightened governments. Only yesterday Kuwait announced that it was going to ban BlackBerry messenger in a valiantly pointless attempt to stand in the way of an ever increasingly technology dependent and technologically savvy population. It will only be a matter of time, I’d have thought, before some Sheikh or other in the GCC or some enthroned dictatorially democratic leader in the rest of the Middle East decides that Facebook ought to be wholly banned. Much luck to them.

Hat hip: MEI Editor

IDF Facebook mission leak 4, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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The much vaunted Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had to call off a raid on a village in the Palestinian territories after some genius posted details of it on his facebook site.

“On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home.”

Additionally, the soldier disclosed the name of the combat unit involved.

This news comes the week after the Pentagon stated that it would allow US soldiers access to Twitter and Facebook. What can possibly go wrong?

Iranian Facebook & YouTube: open for business 18, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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Iranian authorities have released their blocks on Facebook and YouTube. This is quite a move forwards for the repressive regime in Tehran. Is this some kind of concession of sorts towards Obama’s recent more gentile rhetoric? Is this finally the vanguard of new media-savvy technology being embraced by the regime, after admitting defeat a la King Canute? It seems not. In an excellent article for Radio Free Europe, Golnaz Esfandiari suggests that it is in fact the Iranian authorities taking advantage of these media with one eye firmly on the upcoming June elections. In short, it is a way to contribute to roping in the youth vote. Time will tell…after a facebook status update has told us, that is.

Hat tip: Andrew Bishop. Much obliged.