Saudi Internet Café Charges Customers to Create a Twitter Account

An Internet café in Saudi Arabia is charging money to create Twitter and Facebook accounts for its customers, the local al-Sharq daily reported. According to the newspaper, owners of the Internet café in the city of Gonfotha, western Saudi Arabia, offer to help computer illiterate customers create accounts on social media sites in return for what is described as a “symbolic fee.” The cost for creating a Facebook account SR 10, and creating a Twitter account would cost SR 20. As for creating an account on video sharing site YouTube, that would be SR 30 per user. One US dollar equals SR 3.75.

Use of social media sites in Saudi Arabia has exploded over the past two years. Recent numbers show there are more than 6 million Facebook users in the country, according to numbers released by The Social Clinic, a consultancy firm based in Jeddah. Twitter has become one of the most active platform for public debate in Saudi Arabia, with more than 3 million users posting more than 50 million tweets per month. Saudi citizens are also leading the consumption of online video in the Middle East, with users from Saudi Arabia accounting for 190 million views out of the 240 million daily YouTube views in the region.

Illustration courtesy of Esther Vargas on Flickr.