Twitter and Policy Outcomes- Mid Eurasia and Northern Africa

The following analysis includes nations from the Middle East, Caucasus and Eastern Europe, and Northern Africa.  I feel like this is the appropriate time to note that I broke the analysis down into regions not just for their cultural, governmental, and geopolitical similarities, but also to make analysis and comparision easier.  To this point, this break down has actually been extremely helpful, as, regionally, nations seem to have a lot in common in their online presence, trends in poverty and inequality, and available data.  But as defining this region  (really a mixture of regions) is highly political and the subject of contrasting debates on identity, I wanted to say that I have attempted to avoid categorizations which might appear in support of a particular policy or identification.

There are 24 African and Eurasian countries with verified, active accounts in these regions.  Uniquely to this set, several royal accounts make the lists.  All ten of the most followed accounts have more than a million followers, and 4 are royal accounts.  The top ten tweeters all tweet 8 times a day on average.  All are prime minister, foreign ministry, presidential, or government accounts.  The king of Jordan’s personal account has an impressive 5.59% interaction rate, with the Saudi royal account taking second place at 3.99%.  The rest of the list is taken up by presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers.  The lists show an active online community and demonstrate some of the trends seen in earlier posts with regards to the types of accounts occupying each list.  The role of royal accounts, representing institutions more directly associated with individuals and personalities but disconnected from the democratic and often policymaking processes, further complicates my ability to draw connections between outcomes and social media.  What role might royalties’ social media play in policymaking?  Or in the formation of national identity and policy priorities?  Once again we’ve run into questions better asked in another study.

All countries with sufficient (at least two years) data saw a fall in poverty between the first (1997 or later) and last (2014 or earlier) year of data.  For 25% of the countries, inequality rose, but half witnessed 4+ point falls.

Georgia has the most complete data, and makes one top ten list as 3rd in interaction rate for the prime minister’s account, established in 2011.  After that year, its previously fluctuating poverty ratio has consistently declined, from 36.84 to 25.27%- from a higher point than the first year of data to an all-time low.  Inequality has fallen in that time as well, but rose slightly from 2013 to 2014.

Iran’s inequality change was most impressive: a 6.75 point drop between 1998 and 2013.  Ukraine had the biggest fall in poverty: 34.53% between 1999 and 2014.  Both have impressive results on the other list as well.  Both also have accounts which make top ten lists: the personal account of the Iranian foreign minister, created in 2009, has the 8th best interaction rate.  Ukrainian accounts, created between 2010 and 2016, take 6 of the top 10 spots for most tweets, including first and second at 22 and 16, and the 10th spot on the interaction list.  For Iran, the period after the account’s creation marked a fall in inequality after a previous rise.  The most dramatic fall in poverty, from 11.18 to 3.05, came before, although it continued to fall to 2013’s 0.66%.  Similarly, Ukraine’s poverty ratio declined the most before the creation of the first account.  Since their emergence onto Twitter, poverty had generally declined, from .25%, although it has fluctuated.

Their political situations, in addition to their results here, will make all three nations interesting case studies.  As I noted, I will also have to come back to look at the role of royal, both institutional and personal, accounts.

As I am in no way an expert on Ukraine, Iran, or Georgia, I would welcome readers’ insights and ideas for the case study.  As an update, I also have Ecuador and Uganda on my case studies list, and will be looking to everything-but-South-Asia-because-I-did-that-already Asia to add a few more.  See you then!


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