A cartoon about how developers in San Francisco decide how users in the Arab world engage with social media
What do social media companies need to know about Arab users?

If you had five minutes with representatives from some of the top Internet companies in the world, what would you tell them about Arab social media? What should they know? What would you ask for?
This Friday, in San Francisco, SMEXbeirut will present about social media in Lebanon and the region to representatives of Twitter, Facebook, Google, Creative Commons, and other well-known Internet companies, as well as from the US government’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), which has awarded several million dollars in funding for Secretary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative.
We have some ideas about what we want to say drawn from our experiences and conversations over the past three years:

  • That social media is helping to create new kinds of networks and collaborations as well as helping pave new avenues to entrepreneurship and economic empowerment;
  • That activists and others continue to use digital and social media to advocate for their rights even as they face harassment, arrest, and even torture by the cowardly regimes afraid to honor those rights; and
  • That Arabs, like everyone else, want to participate in a web that reflects their contributions, their language, and their culture.

That’s our perspective. We also want yours. So if there’s something you’d like to share with the people who have a big say in determining our social media experience, please post it in a comment here by this Friday, 6 p.m. Beirut time (that’s +2 GMT). We’ll pass it on.

What do social media companies need to know about Arab users?

Note: This opportunity comes as a result of our involvement in a new project called e-Mediat, which will provide social media training to more than 200 civil society organizations in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen over the next 16 months. The project is funded by MEPI and being implemented by the International Institute of Education, along with several partners, of whom SMEX is one. We’ll be posting more about the project, partners, and the meeting later this week.