The geography of the Arab public sphere on Twitter

Tal Samuel-Azran, Tsahi (Zack) Hayat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


To understand the interplay between geography and online social networks, this paper maps the Arab public sphere on online networks. We analyzed publicly available Twitter data of a large sample of Arab Twitter members (N = 1,500,000). We focused on the influence of two geographic factors – distance between individuals and air travel frequency – as well as the influence of the language of the followers of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya Twitter accounts on the formation of transnational social ties among Arabs. Distance between individuals and language differences significantly predicted Arabs' social ties. Frequency of airline flights between nations and being a regional television follower strongly predicted social ties as well. From the geographical perspective, then, the findings challenge the online Arab public sphere notion as well as wider theories of space-time compression in the global era. Similarly, the analysis highlights the distinct English and Arabic realms. In contrast, the findings illustrate the important role that regional media plays in promoting an Arab public sphere. Combined, the findings elaborately portray the narrow boundaries of the Arab public sphere on Twitter and illustrates that the fragmented Arab world's offline structure is reflected on Twitter.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101327
JournalTechnology in Society
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arab public sphere
  • Death of distance
  • Social network analysis
  • Space of flows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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