72% of Ministers in Jordan Not on Social Media Platforms

AKEED, Aya Khawaldeh

A monitoring conducted by the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) of the government"s presence on social media has shown that 13.8% of the current Cabinet ministers have official accounts on Twitter, 24% of them have personal accounts on Facebook, and 3.4% of them have two official accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Some 72.4% of the ministers are not on Facebook and Twitter in a country that has more than 5 million Facebook users, which is equivalent to 50% of the population. This is by the end of the first half of 2017, according to figures published by Internet World Stats, an international site specialized in Internet statistics. Also, the number of Twitter users in Jordan has totaled more than 350,000 by the middle of last year, according to an international study by Pew Research Center.

Four out of 29 ministers, including the prime minister, have official accounts on Twitter. They are Ayman Safadi, minister of foreign affairs and expatriates; Lina Annab, minister of tourism; Majd Shweikeh, minister of information and communications technology; and Omar Razzaz, minister of education. Two of the four Twitter ministers have a personal account on Facebook; they are Safadi and Annab. Meanwhile, Minister Razzaz, who is active on Twitter, is officially and personally not on Facebook. Minister Majd Shweikeh has an official account on Facebook. Therefore, she is the only minister who has two official accounts on the world"s two most important social platforms.

In addition to the above three ministers who are on Facebook, there are four other ministers who have personal accounts on the same platform. They include the minister of awqaf and Islamic affairs and the minister of health. They only post activities pertaining to their work at the two ministries. Also, Adel Tweissi, minister of higher education, and Bishr Khasawneh, minister of state for legal affairs, have two personal pages that are somewhat active.  

According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Internet users in Jordan have totaled 8.7 million. This shows the great interest of Jordanian citizens in following developments and maintaining contact via social media sites.

Social Media Ministers

Majd Shweikeh, minister of information and communications technology, believes that "social media sites have become a platform and place for everybody to communicate, hold discussions, and establish networks. Modern technological developments have produced an unexpected revolution in the world of communication. They have created a new continent that connects different parts of the world via cyberspace and the virtual world." Speaking to AKEED, she adds that "social media sites create an atmosphere of communication in a technical virtual community that brings together different people from different areas and countries on one website. They have different attitudes, levels, and colors, but they use one technical language."

In an interview with AKEED, Minister of Youth Jamal Khreishah stressed the importance of social media in light of the great interest by Jordanian citizens in these sites. However, he prefers to communicate with youth via the official page of the ministry.

Dr. Adel Tweissi, minister of higher education and scientific research, told AKEED that social media platforms are very important for him as a minister. He always writes about the sector that he manages.  He adds: "I often benefit from the comments about the opinions of participants of certain issues and decisions. I also receive private comments that are not published."

Opportunity for Interaction

Ibrahim Mubaideen, a journalist specialized in covering news of the information and communications technology sector, says that "having an account on social media platforms in itself is not enough." He adds that "the most important thing is interaction between ministers and the people who benefit from the sectors that they serve. Each ministry should form a social media team that can communicate and interact with citizens. This applies to the public and private sectors." He says that it is important for decision-makers to be on social media sites since there are more than 5 million Jordanians on Facebook, according to international estimates, and more than 350,000 Twitter users.

Mubaideen says that ministers are still unaware of the importance of these sites in presenting their ideas and plans in the sectors that they serve. Through these platforms, they can convey information and explain government decisions. Officials cannot hold news conferences every day.

Media Strategy

The government"s media strategy 2011-2015 stresses the importance of social media to reach citizens and the eagerness to build the capacities of civil servants to use these platforms to deal with citizens in all fields.

90% of World Democracies Have Leaders Who Tweet

The latest report by the Digital Policy Council for 2015 shows that political leaders have expanded their activity on Twitter a great deal and that their followers have increased annually. Meanwhile, this has been slow in unstable countries. The report adds that 84 countries out of the 136 tweeting countries were classified as fully democratic. With a total of 94 countries in the world classified as fully democratic, this signifies approximately that 90% of the leaders of the world"s democracies tweet.