Facebook global woes leave Middle East and North Africa brand intact

Facebook global woes leave Middle East and North Africa brand intact
Facebook is one of the most popular brands in the Middle East. (Shutterstock)
Updated 31 July 2018

Facebook global woes leave Middle East and North Africa brand intact

Facebook global woes leave Middle East and North Africa brand intact
  • Facebook ranks fifth in the combined rankings for Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, and tops the table in Egypt
  • Facebook says that it is investing heavily in improving data privacy and halting the spread of fake news

LONDON: It has lost $120 billion off its share price and consumer confidence is waning. But in the Middle East and North Africa, Facebook is still top of the heap.

The latest BrandIndex rankings by YouGov show that Facebook is one of the most popular brands in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year. It ranks fifth in the combined rankings for Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, and tops the table in Egypt.

Elsewhere the picture is not so rosy. Twitter reported a drop in user numbers, which sent shares prices tumbling by 20.5 percent at the end of last week. Facebook shares also fell 19 percent last Thursday, the biggest drop in a single day in the history of the company, resulting in $120 billion being wiped off the company’s value.

None of those facts is likely to pop up in a tweet or Facebook post. But it is what you can see on social media — abuse, bullying, toxic posts — that has brought about this dip in fortunes and prompted speculation about whether social media platforms have hit their peak. 

And it has made the markets aware for the first time of something they had never considered before: how inadequate security, protection of privacy and monitoring of abuse can affect consumer confidence, and therefore profits.

Twitter and Facebook have announced that they are tightening regulations to make their platforms “a healthier place.” Twitter even attributed the loss of one million active users in the last quarter to its purging of fake and abusive accounts; it has spent the past few weeks weeding out accounts that promote violence or hate speech. It said that it expects to lose a further few million accounts in the current quarter.

But there is also concern that Twitter usage has not spread very much beyond the core base of celebrities, politicians and journalists.

Facebook says that it is investing heavily in improving data privacy and halting the spread of fake news — a move that seems necessary since the majority of young people say they rely on social media for real news.

Expenditure on improving security will “significantly impact” profitability,” Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg told analysts.