The subject of social networking sites and Egypt is a very interesting one which we will cover in more detail later in this article which focuses upon the most popular social networking websites used by expats in the country. There are very few people around the world who have not encountered some form of social networking website over the last few years because literally they are everywhere!
It is interesting to see the different profiles and different popularity of certain social networking sites across the globe because while these websites are used by millions of people around the world there are very popular with expats. The situation regarding Egypt is as follows: –
While many social networking websites are quite coy about their exact account figures it is estimated that there are 9.3 million Facebook accounts in Egypt. This is but a fraction of the 900 million active Facebook users worldwide but it certainly highlights the popularity of this particular service in Egypt. So what exactly does Facebook have to offer and why is it so popular not only in Egypt but around the world?
In simple terms Facebook is the ultimate in online diaries allowing you to post comments, ask questions, link up with friends, post photographs, etc any time of the day or night. Many people have literally hundreds if not thousands of friends on Facebook, or acquaintances, and Facebook has made it simpler than ever to hook up with friends who may have moved away from the area or indeed moved to a different country. With regards to the expat community there are obvious attractions in that you can stay in contact with friends and family who may be literally thousands of miles away because sometimes it is nice to know that somebody is therefore you, there are people you can ask for help and potentially an “online” shoulder to cry on.
It is amazing to think that Facebook was only set up back in February 2004 and has already accumulated 900 million active users. Indeed the company was recently floated on the American stock market with a $100 billion pricetag and while there were some issues with the float, and indeed the share price has fallen since day one, it does put into perspective the potential value of social networking websites with the ability to connect millions of people around the globe.
LinkedIn is perhaps one of the less well-known social networking websites and the fact that it was initially targeted at the professional social networking arena, i.e. business to business, is perhaps one reason why it’s taken some time to crack the domestic social networking scene. However, again it is amazing to think that this company was only founded in December 2002 and currently has in excess of 150 million active users across 200 different countries and is now available in a range of different languages.
There are obvious attractions for the expat community with regards to LinkedIn because it allows you to delve into the local employment market of your chosen future homeland. The ability to post your skills and experiences, check out the job market and ask questions of experts who are members of the social networking site is worth its weight in gold. No matter where about in the world you are moving to you will have issues, you will have questions and you will have concerns, this is only natural, so if you are able to discuss potential issues with people who have been there, done it and worn the T-shirt it will make a difference.
Can you also imagine the ability to check out the local employment arena, speak to those who may have opportunities available for you and put yourself in the shop window? Even though many people will move to a new life overseas with employment secure before they land it is not always that easy and indeed there may be other options which emerge on sites such as LinkedIn which may not be available on the general Internet. It is also interesting to see that the site has developed and expanded beyond a professional to professional social networking site although the recent hacking by a Russian criminal gang put the company in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Google plus (16.66%)
Google plus is a very interesting service which is effectively an amalgamation of a variety of different Google offerings which include Google profiles, circles, hangouts and sparks to name but a few. It was originally launched in June 2011 as something of a “field test” although almost immediately it was suspended due to excessive demand and relaunched in September 2011 as Google’s new answer to the social networking arena. However, it is worth noting that Google plus was not Google’s first foray into the social networking arena as indeed a number of older projects fell by the wayside and were “forgotten about”.
Whether or not you agree with the various business ethics and business strategies of Google there are very few other companies in the world who can leverage their exposure like Google. When you consider that the company is currently signing up in excess of 600,000 new users for Google plus each and every day, and is on target for 400 million active accounts by the end of 2012, it has certainly come a long way in a very short space of time. However, perhaps the most telling statistic with regards to Google plus is that users spend on average 3.3 minutes a month using the service while Facebook users currently spend 7.5 hours each month. There is certainly scope to improve the service, increase usage but when you have potentially in excess of 400 million accounts to amass there is certainly potential for the future.
It will be interesting to see how Google develops its social networking offering because this is a company which has been used to leading rather than following although it has somewhat given up the ghost and followed the trend with regards to social networking.
Time and time again we have seen many “experts” predicting the death of forums which they believe will be overtaken by the likes of Facebook, Google plus, etc. However, forums offer a very different kind of social networking which is attracting the attention of many groups of the worldwide population including expats. So what do forums have to offer that other social networking sites may not?
Just the merest of glimpses at Google will see that there are literally millions upon millions of active forums around the world covering very subject you can think of and every niche market. However, with regard to the expat community it is the ability to ask specific questions on a forum, which other members may also have in mind, and have various members comment. By attracting a number of members with particular experience and knowledge of your question you get a rounded view of the situation and indeed you can ask them to expand on certain elements.
It is also worth noting that each and every post on the more popular forums will be indexed on Google therefore very often you will find an answer to your question before you have even asked it. It is this ability to exchange information, list information on the search engines and ultimately allow interaction of a different nature to the likes of Facebook which makes forums a very important element of the social networking sector. There is no way that forums are on their way out and near death, indeed in many ways they offer a more structured, more thoughtful and a more relaxing way to interact with like-minded people who may be able to assist you with regards to a potential move overseas.
The subject of Twitter and the Egyptian authorities is one which has been covered in depth over the last few months especially with regards to the so-called “Arab spring”. The Egyptian authorities clamped down very hard upon the likes of Twitter as various demonstrations against the government began to gather pace and it was evident that protesters were using the likes of Twitter to arrange demonstrations and also alert the outside world to various allegations of abuse. There is a very difficult balance to be found with regards to freedom of speech and abuse of freedom of speech but there is also no doubt that services such as Twitter opened up the Egyptian authorities to very close scrutiny.
Twitter itself offers a slightly different angle from the likes of Facebook offering a short sharp messaging service, private messaging service and the ability to exchange links, etc. For many years it was seen by people across the globe as a business tool when in fact it is now as popular with the domestic social networking arena as it is with the business networking arena. The banning of Twitter by the Egyptian authorities, although this ban may well be lifted in due course, brought the overall social networking arena under severe scrutiny and indeed may well lead to the introduction of various regulations and laws in the future. There is evidence across the globe that some Twitter users have crossed the line with regards to the publication of certain facts, speculation and figures which has in many ways given the authorities an excuse to clampdown.
Twitter offers a different type of service to the likes of Facebook although when you bear in mind it currently has in excess of 140 million active users and there are 340 million tweets published each and every day, it certainly is a force to be reckoned with.
MSN live (0%)
For those that follow MSN it will come as no surprise to learn that MSN live is nowhere near as popular as the likes of Facebook, Google plus, Twitter, etc. It is effectively yet another rebranding of Microsoft’s social networking services such as Windows live, Hotmail, MSN, etc although unfortunately, yet again, it has failed to grab the attention of social networking fans across the world. Indeed many believe that Microsoft has missed the boat with regards to social networking having left it very late to decide to make a real play for the market.
While there is no doubt that the likes of Hotmail have been very popular, and indeed are still very popular, as a means of interactive chat, exchanging files, exchanging photographs, etc it offers nowhere near the standard of service emanating from the likes of Facebook. Therefore, unless Microsoft is able and willing to invest a significant amount of money into its social networking services, it seems highly unlikely that the company will become a major player in this arena. When you bear in mind that Facebook was initially valued at in excess of $100 billion on its US stock market float this is the kind of firepower which is needed to succeed in the sector.
Indeed it is also worth noting that the likes of Facebook have in recent weeks bought out potential threats to certain areas of their operations with a multibillion-dollar deal announced for a relatively unknown photography-based service which effectively took out a competitor. At this point in time it is difficult to see where Microsoft will be able to find the stamina and the funding to make even the merest dent in the market dominance of Facebook.
Despite the fact that there were no votes for other social networking websites it is interesting to take a look back in time at the likes of MySpace and Bebo which only a few years ago were the main up-and-coming social networking services. While these two services in particular are still active they are but a shadow of their former selves and have very little chance of regaining anywhere near the kind of exposure they had five or six years ago.
This perfectly reflects the very fast-moving nature of the social networking arena which can literally turn on a sixpence and take former favourites out of the loop and take them down. However, when you bear in mind that Facebook itself was initially valued at upwards of $100 billion on its US float it seems unlikely that any new entries to this particular market would ever stand a chance of having the same impact in the future.
While it is all good and well talking about the positives of social networking and the various services available across the world, there are issues to take into account. Many people are literally opening up themselves to criminal gangs due to the massive array of very private and very personal information which they seem more than willing to publish on their social networking accounts. We will now take a look at some of the issues which need to be taken into consideration including: –
As we touched on above, far too many people seem to live their lives on the likes of Facebook offering information on their whereabouts, their plans for the future and in many cases confirming when they will be away on holiday and their homes will be empty. If you are local thief you could literally scour the Facebook accounts of local residents and you would likely find potential victims for the future. It really is that simple, people give far too much private and personal information away on their social networking accounts.
Many of us will have seen the headlines with regards to identity theft and the fact that it is one of the fastest-growing crimes around the world. There is no doubt that the Internet has assisted criminal gangs in obtaining information on individuals but very often public records can be topped up with information readily available on social networking accounts. Once the criminal gangs have a profile of your basic details and your private and personal details they can then apply for credit cards, bank loans, etc in your name often leaving victims with massive liabilities. Be very careful what you put on your social networking account!
The subject of fake profiles is also something which appears regularly in the worldwide press and has in many instances led to criminal activity. One of the major drawbacks with regards to the Internet and the online arena is the fact that you are never 100% certain who you are talking to. Even if you know it is their account are you ever 100% certain it is the individual you are talking to?
Indeed, as we commented on above, a number of social networking sites have been the subject of hackers in years gone by which has left many users open to potential abuse. Make sure you know who you are talking to, be very careful about the information you give out online and ensure that you do not put yourself in a position of potential danger.
The social networking arena has grown exponentially since the turn-of-the-century and indeed even the world’s largest social networking site, Facebook, has only been in existence since February 2004. However, during that time it has amassed over 900 million active accounts and has become an integral part of the expat community offering the ability to stay in contact with friends and family who may be thousands of miles away.
This is something which has obviously caught the attention of many expats around the globe and indeed there is an array of different types of service available to cover different requirements. However, the ability to literally connect millions upon millions of people around the globe also has specific drawbacks and you need to ensure you protect private and confidential information and indeed think very carefully about the type of information you want to place in the public domain. The recent hacking of the LinkedIn website perfectly illustrates the potential problems in this particular area but LinkedIn is not the only social networking website which has been the subject of hackers in recent times.
There are far more pros than cons with regards to social networking services but you do need to be careful and think long and hard about the information you want to place in the public domain.