The Numbers Crunch: @Yalla habibi

Twitter launches Arabic version; JPost readers pessimistic after Amman talks; talkbackers debate peace process.

Numbers Crunch 311 (photo credit: Mrkay Design)
Numbers Crunch 311
(photo credit: Mrkay Design)
Egyptians routinely make the most noise on Twitter in the region, but now there’s a twist: Users can now tweet in Arabic. According to an announcement by the micro-blogging site last week, the Hebrew version will be rolled out soon, too, along with fellow right-to-left languages Farsi and Urdu. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if mass protest movements and the like continue using English hashtags, such as the #tahrir tag that got so much use last year and enjoyed a revival last week.
In this screenshot from Trendsmap, taken hours after the Arabic version was launched, the tag #egypt (in English) was still dominant, but after that the split was fairly even.
The move came almost two weeks after Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, announced a $300 million investment in Twitter. Also this past week, the Saudi grand mufti called social-networking website Twitter full of lies.
Moving over to, readers were almost unanimous about five rounds of peace talks held in Amman in the past month, and the responses weren’t positive. Almost 70 percent of some 3,000 respondents voted that the talks were “meant to show the Quartet some semblance of progress,” while less than 3% saw the move as productive.
Staying on, the top stories this week had no common thread, apart from the usual Israeli security-related issues. Instead, the stories touched on ongoing violence in Syria, a continued tit-for-tat between Israel and Saudi hackers, a drone crash, and the Iranian nuclear threat.
JPost Top Five most-read stories:
1.       ‘Assad’s family attempts to escape Syria’
2.       Israeli hacker team brings down Iranian websites
3.       ‘US bombs can’t destroy buried Iran nuke plants’
4.       Israel’s most advanced drone crashes in test flight
5.       Ahmadinejad: Sanctions can’t harm Iran's economy
The talkback forums, however, showed a heightened interest in the peace process, apparently marking the passing of the disputed January 26 deadline for Israel and the Palestinians to present comprehensive proposals on border and security issues. Four of the top five stories related to the diplomatic progress, or lack thereof.
JPost Top Five most-active threads:
1.    PA officials: Israeli border proposal a non-starter
2.    Palestinians: Peace talks end with no progress
3.    UN urges halt to demolitions of Palestinian homes
4.    Abbas blames talks’ failure on Israeli intransigence
5.    ‘No peace talks unless J’lem agrees on borders’
In the US, meanwhile, domestic issues all but swept both news coverage and news interest, at 33% and 22%, respectively, according to the Pew Research Center. US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address also took up a significant portion of the news hole in the past week, with 9% of news coverage devoted to the address and 18% of news interest.
And last, continuing with The Numbers Crunch theme of looking at the most-used search terms both in Israel and abroad, Google Insights data from local news searches over the past three months found some interesting, though not surprising, results:
1.       Israel
2.       News (in Hebrew)
3.       Iran
4.       Ynet
5.       Big Brother (in Hebrew)
6.       Walla (in Hebrew)
7.       Facebook (in Hebrew)
8.       Google
9.       Strike (in Hebrew)
10.   Bank (in Hebrew)
From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, The Numbers Crunch is a weekly column which zooms out and brings you the big picture online, from Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and poll results from

The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post