How do Saudi youth engage with social media?
With the global growth of social media platforms, there are questions as to how regional cultural factors shape online engagement. Focusing on young Saudi Arabian users of some of the more popular platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, this article uses Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to assess how cultural and religious factors are shaping and constraining online social media engagements. Using interviews, questionnaires, and analysis of individual profiles, this paper discusses some of the intertwined cultural and religious factors that influence how Saudi youth negotiate their use of social media platforms that are developed in completely different cultural contexts. In particular, this article highlights gendered concerns and the strong influence of the social collective on how these sites are used and how users manage the information they share. Through the development of “personas” as representative young Saudi users, this article concludes with some recommendations for platform developers as to how to meet the needs of this growing market.
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