Despite the multiple social media sites and apps available today, it seems to me that in Kuwait specifically, Twitter still occupies a strong position for heated debates and criticisms on important issues of concern to citizens here, especially those related to government administration and its institutions.
Is it because people can post any sharp or negative comments even when knowing that there is a law that could prolong their punishment? There’s lots of good about Twitter, but there’s an undeniably darker side to it too. What is the secret behind the power of Twitter in Kuwait?
I do not follow all social media daily, but I carefully follow the discussions and comments on Twitter about issues that concern Kuwaitis, especially hashtag campaigns. I believe that it is very important to know how people look at things and what they really feel. Twitter has changed the way people deal with the good and bad news in their lives. It has created organized opposition campaigns through hashtags. Official news is usually published everywhere, but Twitter reflects people’s thoughts. The Twitter hashtag today is a powerful tool that greatly facilitates interaction and discussion on current topics.
Also, Twitter has been used to raise awareness of political topics, spread political messages and criticize political performance. This has often come through specific campaigns. One of the most recent examples is #canceldebts – people use the hashtag to campaign against the heavy debts of citizens. This I think created a new civil rights movement. But this also came with a price, because some people became targets of abuse by anonymous users.
The huge number of Twitter users has a powerful impact, because one person may write or say something, but the world can have an opinion on it. Twitter is an infinite space for freedom of expression. Twitter boasts 330 million monthly active users (as of Q1 2019). Countries with the most Twitter users in 2019 are the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
The thing that I noticed on Twitter in Kuwait is that those who are known as influencers on other social media sites do not exist on Twitter, because Twitter is often a sharp political platform and there is no room for advertising or marketing for products or restaurants. Twitter has become a major means of communication not only in Kuwait, but in other Gulf states too. Non-profit organizations can communicate with their customers, while government agencies can announce their latest services and decisions.
For instance, a decision by the Kuwaiti government to grant a loan to a country can lead to a heated debate, because people feel that they have needs too and want the government to listen to them and help them achieve them. The blue bird platform is an easy window to vent their anger and express their opinions, whether positive or negative. I hope that officials do not only look at the news but also the important comments that accompany it. Twitter is the pulse of the people.
By Muna Al-Fuzai