Dubai summit debates reaction to social media tide
User-uploaded content sharing sites were a digital battlefront in the 2011 Arab Spring regional revolt, Jordan's former prime minister said
The surging tide of social media in the Arab world means that government and media organizations must directly engage with public sentiments and grievances, a summit in Dubai heard on Monday.
User-uploaded content sharing sites were a digital battlefront in the 2011 Arab Spring regional revolt, with governments having a weaker grip on controlling information, former Jordanian Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai told the Social Media Summit at the city’s Armani Hotel.
“This is the age of information. It is no longer the eight-o-clock news on a government-controlled TV station,” said Rifai, according to UAE-based daily Gulf News, adding that around 30 percent of people in the region view most of their news of social media platforms.
The former premier, who claimed to be the first Jordanian prime minister to have pages on Twitter and Facebook, said that some of his colleagues had initially complained that “it took away from the prestige of the job and it would make me a target [of critics]”.
The rise of citizen journalism also meant traditional newspaper or state censors had less control over the news agenda. In the Syria conflict where the regime tightly contains information flow, ordinary people were “trained to report professionally and send [news] back,” CNBC Arabia CEO Mohammad Burhan said at the summit.