Happy New Year Everyone! As of this week, the first week of 2013, SocialEyez will include a new weekly feature in the Buzz Report: The Weekly Top 5. The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects which generated the largest volume of discussion across Arabic language social media platforms on a weekly basis. The report is derived from crawling the web and indexing hundreds of thousands of Arabic-language, user-generated results on a daily basis. A more thorough explanation of our methodology follows the report. The Weekly Top 5 represents data collected throughout the Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world.
This week, Arab social media platforms were dominated by discussions of politics. This category alone generated approximately 66% of the week’s total volume, which is why we have listed the top five subjects in the politics category as well as the top subject in each of the other categories: society, art, religion, and sports.
The greatest buzz was created by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s reassurances that Egypt’s economy was not in danger, in spite of warnings by the Central Bank that the country’s foreign currency reserves had reached a critical level. The majority of social media users mocked the President’s optimistic address to the newly convened upper house of parliament and accused him of being divorced from reality.
For example, Facebook page The Revolution’s Journalist posted: “If the economy is alright, then why do banks set a $ 10,000 roof to withdraw cash?? A second Mubarak speech??? We are drowning!” On the other hand, Morsi supporters accused the media of spreading lies about the economy and asked Egyptians to be patient. User Kareem Aadel wrote: “We have long been patient, and we will have some more patience to improve our economy…but we must all work, dear men!”
With a much smaller share of the total conversation, society, art, religion and sports also featured in this week’s buzz. In Saudi Arabia, users discussed comments made by Saudi preacher Imam Adel Ibn Salem Al-Kalbany criticizing prominent scholar Mohamed Al-Arifi’s strenuous campaign against MBC3, a children’s TV channel, which they denounced as “involving religion in a personal feud.” Social media users were split on the issue: some criticized the arguments between the two preachers, others supported Al-Arifi’s boycott campaign of MBC3, and still others criticized Al-Arifi’s personal feud with the network. However, general attitudes towards Sheikh Al-Arifi were positive.
Reader What’s Wrong wrote: “You must unite against the channels of orgy and fornication.” On the other hand, user Moaidmahjoub said: “Sheikh Kalbani is frank; if there is a personal feud between Al-Arifi and MBC, he doesn’t have the right to slam it like that!”
Back in Egypt, users were disappointed that instead of airing a fresh episode of the talent competition Sawt Al-Hayat (Voice of Hayat), the show chose to highlight moments from previous episodes. Many users, including Kenzy Abdeen, were unimpressed by the show’s second to last episode: “It’s my fault that I stayed late waiting for you!” Some, however, were happy to re-watch the show’s talents and prayed for their favorite contestants to win: “God willing, Sherif Ismail is the winner!” wrote Mohamed Ramadan.
Meanwhile, popular Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled continued to give his audience advice on how to conduct their lives as good Muslims. This week, he advised his fans in Egypt and across the Arab world to be themselves and not imitate others. “Be the first version of yourself; don’t be a copy of someone else,” he posted. Social media users approved of this advice, in spite of some of the fans’ concerns over Khaled’s recent political stances. Khaled also sparked a discussion about the importance of becoming charity channels for others and doing good rather than waiting for others’ approval. Commenting on the discussion, user Meshel Gamel said: “Do good and don’t expect to be paid for it, because God the Generous will give you more.”
Finally, Egyptian sports fans followed the friendly football match between Egypt and Qatar, in which Egypt beat Qatar 2-0. The proceeds from the match went to relieve victims of a football riot that killed over 75 spectators in Egypt last February, as well as victims of a train crash last month. It wasn’t long before users veered away from sports and into politics, as they commented about Egypt’s relationship with Qatar, particularly under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. While some users joked that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi must have apologized to the Emir of Qatar for such a defeat, others accused Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members of supporting Qatar during the match. There were also users that disapproved of the idea of playing a game abroad to collect donations for their country, which they believed degraded Egypt’s status among other Arabs.
Ibrahim Eissa tweeted: “Because of Egypt’s defeat to Qatar, Morsi apologizes to the Emir of Qatar for the irresponsible behavior of a ‘few infiltrators among the Egyptian national team’s lineup’.” Also in a mocking tone, Mohamed Ahmed Shawadfi wrote : “Here starts the beggary season by touring the countries and asking them to help Egypt under the cover of train and underground victims…”
These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.
The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.
Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).