Twitter began speaking Arabic in March, and now the social-media service has the sixth-most-popular website in Saudi Arabia. As The New York Times reported recently, Twitter has become a virtual parliament in a country that has none.
But in Germany, the little blue bird is only No. 20, according to the Web-monitoring firm Alexa. Twitter auf Deutsch lags two places behind geeky gadget site chip.de, and seven spots behind social-media portal xing.com. What gives? Are Germans discouraged by the 140-character limit? A few of their famously long Wortzusammensetzungen (compound words) would run over the limit pretty quickly. Let’s not even get into the Vergangenheitsbewältigung (dealing with the past, especially nazism) of Twitter’s decision, last month, to block an account that was sending out neo-Nazi tweets.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s campaign to twittify the globe marched through 16 more languages in September, including Tamil, Bengali and Kannada, three languages common in southern or eastern India. Good call, little bird: Twitter is the No. 10 website in India.
But no matter where you hang your hashtags, the fact remains that the cohort for which Twitter holds the most appeal, according to Alexa, is that of childless female graduate students under 35. Any connection with the datum (from the consulting firm Booz & Company, via the Times) that 60 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s female PhDs have no gainful employment may not be accidental.