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New Internet Monitor report: “Openness and Restraint: Structure, Discourse, and Contention in Saudi Twitter”

Internet Monitor, a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, is delighted to announce the publication of “Openness and Restraint: Structure, Discourse, and Contention in Saudi Twitter,” the eighth in a series of special reports that focus on key events and new developments in Internet freedom. Social, political, and religious content online is highly filtered by the Saudi government, and the offline media are tightly controlled. Twitter, however, is comparatively open: Saudi censors are unable to block individual accounts or tweets without blocking the entire site, and the site remains accessible for Saudi users. As a result, the platform has flourished. Saudi Arabia has a higher percentage of Twitter users than any other country in the world, and nearly a third of all tweets in the region come from Saudi Arabia. “Openness and Restraint,” authored by Helmi Noman, Robert Faris, and John Kelly, maps and analyzes the structure and content of the Saudi Twittersphere and identifies the communities that coalesce around different political, religious, social, and cultural topics and viewpoints:

“This study of the Saudi Twittersphere offers a detailed view of public sentiment and provides insights into the overall structure, discourse, and communities of the network. We look into how users take advantage of the fact that Twitter is an unfiltered media platform to advance their political and social causes. We also examine three case studies centered on issues that received extensive attention on Twitter at the national level during the course of this study.”

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