A couple of months ago the annual KPCB Internet Trends slide deck was published online and uploaded to Slideshare. As in years past this PowerPoint presentation became one of the most popular pieces of content on the web in the days and weeks following its release. Most Americans were fascinated with many of the statistics about online trends ranging from search to social to email. One slide in particular caught the attention of the many top social media blogs in the US.
Slide 28 on the 117 slide deck focused in how Americans where sharing underachievers.
Just 15% of Americans said that they share everything or most things online. This was 9 percent lower than the global average of 24%. Despite the fact that this information was interesting and worth sharing, what struck me was the statistic on the slide that everyone seemed to miss. A whopping 61% percent of Saudi Arabians surveyed said they share everything or most things online. Sixty-one percent! Didn’t this shock anyone else?
The media tends to portray Saudi Arabia as a country that is closed off to the rest of the world. We are given the impression that there is a veil over much of what is being done and practiced in this country. Yet this statistic seems to fly in the face of this what we have been told. If 61% of the Saudi population shares nearly everything online then it would appear that for those online this society is an open book, available for all to read.
Two Possible Explanations
I think there could be two possible explanations to this statistic. My first thought was that there might have been an issue with the survey itself. It’s possible that it could have been translated poorly so that the question that was being asked wasn’t clear enough. The layout of the translated survey could have also played a role in influencing the outcome. This could be likely because Arabic is written from right to left, not left to right like English.
The openness and freedom one can have on the Internet is another reason I could see as a cause for this stat. Maybe the fact that there are restrictions on what people can and can’t do in public in Saudi Arabian society has helped to drive Saudi Arabians to share online what they would normally have shared in public.
Anyway, this is all just speculation and I don’t know the real answer for why such a large percent of Saudis share most things online. It is interesting to see that this statistic didn’t get talked about more in the media though.