As of January 2017, approximately half the world population has access to the internet, while the number of worldwide social media users is expected to exceed 2 billion in 2016. Although North America is the leading region in terms of internet penetration, the Middle East is also increasingly connected, with an internet penetration above the world average – 60 percent of the total population. Notwithstanding this increase in access to internet services, largely supported by increasing access to mobile devices and decreasing costs of internet packages, international observers attract attention to censorship practices in various countries in the region. According to the 2016 Freedom House Index regarding the internet freedom in selected Middle East and North African countries, Syria and Iran jointly occupied the penultimate place in internet freedom with 87 index points. With a 72 index, Saudi Arabia received a “not free” status from the International organization.
In Saudi Arabia, social media and technology is increasingly popular, mostly due to the low average age of the country’s population.