A United Arab Emirates newspaper commented today on the influence the social media tool Twitter has worldwide, following reports that Turkey was blocking the famous online instant messaging forum.
"Twitter, one of the most popular social networking sites, marks its eighth anniversary this week and millions of prolific tweeters have made it an exhilarating and powerful tool to connect with others," said the English language daily 'Gulf Today'.
Birth anniversaries are hardly complete without a treat. To mark the celebration, Twitter has offered a way for users to see their first tweet, and the first tweets of others, including celebrities. By using the hashtag #FirstTweet and Using a Tweet Tool, one can look back to find their very first Tweet or anyone else's.
It is said that heads of state of 125 countries and 139 other leading politicians have Twitter accounts that have between them sent more than 350,000 tweets and have almost 52 million followers.
The paper noted that the UAE is one of the countries that has embraced technology and put it to productive use. The result is reflected in the country's amazing growth. Just recently, the fourth annual rankings of the use of social media among world leaders published by the Digital Policy Council revealed that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has climbed from number 10 in the Twitter world leader ranking in 2012 to seventh spot in 2013.
Sheikh Mohammed's followers increased by 1.4 million over 2012 to reach 2.4 million in 2013, making the biggest climb in the Twitter rankings amongst world leaders, a state that only denotes cultural openness and emphasises the close bond between him and the citizens and residents of the UAE.
"It is not that the service has not courted controversy. During the Arab Spring in early 2011, the number of hashtags mentioning the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt increased. The media has been used to organise protests, sometimes referred to as "Twitter Revolutions," which include the Egyptian revolution, Tunisian protests and 2009 Moldova civil unrest," it continued.
In a new development, Turkey's courts have blocked access to Twitter days before elections. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "wipe out" Twitter and declared he did not care what the international community had to say about it.
"For millions, checking the Twitter feed has become a daily ritual. Several celebrities use the service to break news about themselves. In eight years, users have transformed Twitter into a place to discover new ideas, make real human connections and express themselves freely. The virtual platform has turned out to be an effective voice of the common man at the level of leaders," the paper concluded.