Traditionally, nations in the Middle East and Africa tend to share less online than other cultures, but in recent years, social networks have been making a significant social and cultural impact. Greater social network usage is especially being seen in those who are younger and well-educated, and mobile phones—already popular among users for accessing social networks—will continue to drive usage. However, despite recent expansion, internet access remains limited in the Middle East and Africa, especially outside of urban centers.
But those who do go online are likely to visit social networks. Earlier this year, eMarketer forecast that the Middle East and Africa region was estimated to have the third-highest social network penetration rate among internet users at 71.2%. Though this number has been revised slightly downward to 70.2% for 2012, because of larger reductions in penetration for Latin America and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa now holds the top spot in social network user penetration among internet users worldwide.
eMarketer projects that in 2012, there will be 146.4 million social network users in the region, revised downward from the previous estimate by 2.1 million based on research released during 2012.
Research has also led eMarketer to slightly reduce the region’s number of Facebook users for 2012 from 119.7 million to 117.8 million.
Facebook remains a strong presence in the region’s social network market, in part due to mobile carriers that deliver a low-bandwidth version of Facebook to 2G phones.
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