Social media for social change


As technology and social media continue to advance, the main sources of information become more reliable on online platforms than in traditional media. The rise of technology in society has allowed for voices of media influencers to be heard by millions of people within seconds. Consequently, this has paved the way for anyone to become a journalist, as technology has allowed information to spread at speeds much faster than the press. A post by a social media influencer can be more powerful and impactful than a reliable publication. Social media influencers can reach an audience an established publication would not normally reach. Therefore, rather than solely focusing on personal short-term profits, influencers can use their platforms to promote positive values and get their followers interested in various causes. Indeed, Fayez Al-Malki, a Saudi actor, is one of the well-known influencers that use social media as a key mechanism to promote positive change in society.

Last December, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, an adviser at the Royal Court and Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KS relief), headed the surgical team that separated the Tanzanian conjoined twins Anishia and Melanese after a 13-hour operation in Riyadh. This marked Dr. Al-Rabeeah’s 47th successful separation operation. But what was different in this last operation was that the general public acted as a second-hand observer and was visually involved in the operation due to Fayez Al-Malki’s 13-hour video coverage across his social media platforms. Al-Malki, captured direct footage throughout the entire duration of the operation resulting in engaging viewers more than they would have been had they watched it on TV. This is not the first time Al-Malki has been involved with humanitarian causes.

Apart from being an actor, Al-Malki is also a Goodwill ambassador of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center who usually accompanies Dr. Al-Rabeeah on his field missions to crisis-affected communities to deliver Saudi Arabia’s external humanitarian aid and relief. Through Al-Malki’s posts, viewers get to experience and understand the Kingdom’s efforts to become a leading center for creating and sustaining positive social change. For example, it has been reported that KS relief center has carried out 492 projects worth around two billion dollars in more than 40 countries. Also, Saudi Arabia had taken in and welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Yemen, Syria and Myanmar, putting it in second place internationally in terms of the number of refugees accepted. These are some of the many statistics available in social media that showcase the Kingdom’s attempts to deliver assistance and alleviate human suffering on a global scale.

Social media has become the best way to connect with a lot of people quickly. It has become, over the last decade, a powerful medium in imparting societal change and shining light on various subjects that were not well known. These days, however, social media influencers are more motivated in gaining viewers and followers. Most of these accounts will involve eye-catching information to attract more followers. As a result, social media platforms began quantifying influence as measures of self-worth: followers, likes and comments, impeding society’s capacity for meaningful thoughts and actions. That’s why we need more influencers like Fayez Al-Malki who not only has a substantial impact on the entertainment industry but also uses his social media platforms to advocate for change and draw further attention to humanitarian causes.

Kariman Abuljadayel was the first Saudi woman to compete in the 100m race at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She is an accredited architect with a BA and MA in Architecture from Northeastern University in Boston. Currently, Kariman is a lecturer of Architectural Engineering at Alfaisal University. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKariman