Social media networking has revolutionized the way people communicate, share information and stay in touch. It has changed from being a playground for the tech savy to become the play ground for the masses. This has also has become a mass marketing tool.
Many companies ranging from Apple to Groupon have used these social networking websites to conduct surveys, market their products and even brainstorm ideas. It truly has emerged as a virtual think tank. Until now there has not been any issues or condemnations on these free writing, open based websites. That is why the new suspension by Twitter has caused many confusion and outcry.
The social network site Twitter has suspended a new website launched by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs to transmit religious news and promote dialogue between Muslims worldwide. Twitter gave no reason for suspending ?Assakina for dialogue? website service and Saudi officials said they had tried in vain to reach the global network to seek explanation for its move, Alriyadh Arabic language daily said.
?We have launched this website with the aim of promoting moderation, renouncing violence, and spreading peace and moderate Islamic concepts around the world?we have intensified our campaign on Twitter over the past period but it was mainly intended to warn against seditions.?
According to its website, Assakina (tranquility) said its campaign is intended to spreading its ideas on websites, forums and groups with the aid of a multi-disciplinary team to achieve the Campaign goals with the most suitable and effective methods and techniques.
?Propagating for the Campaign and interacting with the public should be done in a personal and friendly way,? it said. ?Through these websites, the correct concepts will be presented and the deviating ideas will be refuted. The discussion may be public or via personal e-mails but either way, we will focus on the religious content.?
Twitter gave no reason for suspending ?Assakina for dialogue? website service and Saudi officials said they had tried in vain to reach the global network to seek explanation for its move, Alriyadh Arabic language daily said.
?We have written to Twitter to know the reasons for their decision but we have not received any reply?we are still trying to contact them to know their motives since this site conforms to copyrights laws and does not violate any rule,? the paper quoted Assakina manager Yehya Al Zahrani as saying.
Twitter has nothing against religious content. There are many pages for Christin contents like Bible Chirp, Zoecity.org, Jewish contents like Gewaldigg.com. There are also a numerous Islamic content pages like Islam crunch, Dua for you and many more. Even organizations like Hamas and IRA have content pages on twitter.
Saudi Arabia has Facebook users at over 4 million, with a population of more that 27 million, its penetration is just tad over 15%, ahead of only Oman which has a Facebook penetration rate of less than 9%.?With over 481,000 Facebook users among a population of 1.7m, Qatar’s Facebook penetration rate of 28.32 per cent is second only to the UAE among GCC countries, followed by Bahrain (24.54 per cent penetration) and Kuwait (22.82 per cent).
The Arab Social Media Report (ASMR) also reveals that there are 201,000 Twitter users in the UAE – the most among GCC countries – although its penetration rate of 2.43 per cent is far behind leader Qatar’s 7.83 per cent, which is followed by Bahrain (5.01 per cent) and Kuwait (3.24 per cent). Saudi Arabia and Oman have Twitter penetration rates of less than 1 per cent.
A country with such a small penetration rate provides the best opportunity to promote any service or product. Thereby why would Twitter go against such a simple marketing strategy? The answer it seems lies not on the content of Islam but the location from which it is being generated.
Saudi Arabia has not been known for its religious tolerance or for its freedom of speech. This is known all over and the media has not helped it either. Thereby it seems that Twitter is apprehensive on allowing government content to rule the site. ?This would allow Saudi Arabia to propagate its views and ideas, not the views of its people,? one Tweeter living in UAE told AG. If you visit the website Assakina.com, the news is pro-Saudi. This is not the true news. If such websites are allowed then there is no room for the truth,? said the Tweeter.
?Twitter is a free space, we can talk about anything we want, if we allow governments to enter this way, it would be a case of Big Brother,? another Tweeter from Arizona, USA. Some Tweeters think that Saudi Arabia decided to launch these websites into social networks as to ascertain the pulse of the people, mainly the Saudis. ?Maybe to avoid another revolt against the monarchy,? told the Tweeter to AG.
Is it only the case of privacy and control? Saudi Arabia says that its using these social media networks to tell the world the true story, not the one fabricated by the media. ?This is our opportunity to tell the world our side of the truth,? said one student from Jeddah. ?It is really unfair of Twitter to block us. The western media has always been against Islam and its developments, this is just its way of showing its might? she said.
Conspiracy theories are floating on the social networking sites. ?It?s the Jews? said one Tweeter. They control 90% plus world media and they don?t want Islam to strengthen. Another one said it?s the Free Masons, others blame the Vatican. Its goes on.
This has helped Assakina.com gain popularity, as many people want to know what this website is about. ?Though we are not happy with what Twitter has done, it has helped Assakina.com gain momentum and popularity”, said?another?Tweeter.
Social media is without borders and without prejudice. It is open to all, that does not mean slander and violence is approved, no. Freedom of speech is a right that has to be enjoyed by all, if such a renowned site starts playing the role of Big brother itself, then the authenticity and individual freedom is lost.
source: Saudi Gazette