Saudi Prince Investment in Twitter Could Impact Gay Tweets within Kingdom

Although Liberal in relation to other members of the Saudi Royal Family, what does Saudi prince Twitter Purchase mean for Gay World?

by Melanie Nathan, Dec 19, 2011

Reuters is reporting that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire and an investor in some of the world’s top companies, has bought a stake in microblogging site Twitter for $300 million, “gaining another foothold in the global media industry.”

Alwaleed, who owns a 7% stake in News Corp and plans to start a cable news channel, is the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s king who was estimated by Forbes magazine this year to have a fortune of over $19 billion.

As Reuters notes Twitter was a key means of communication for protesters in the Arab Spring revolts this year, violence that threatened Saudi Arabia until the kingdom unveiled a populist $130 billion social spending package. The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm, resulted from “months of negotiations,” Kingdom said.

We must also note that Twitter has had an enormous impact in spreading news and media as a participant in the equality and gay rights movement around the world, to include LGBTI human rights issues across the globe.  It is a form of communication that has served almost every spectrum of any protest movement.

Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo valued the company at $8 billion in October, according to media reports, which would peg the size of Alwaleed’s investment at just under 4 percent.

We contacted Gay Middle Editors for comments about the purchase. Both Shamil, Gay Middle East Editor for Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Dan Littauer, Exectutive Editor of Gay Middle East commented that the Prince is known to be liberal in his views.

Shamil noted that the prince has business interests that employ women in great numbers, and that they do not have to wear traditional headdress, hijab, in his towering Riyadh building. He is supportive of women having full equality in Saudi Arabia.

However when it comes to LGBT issues the Prince is silent as would be expected of someone who has such a strong connection to the Royal family. It would not be prudent for any commentary on LGBT issues at all as such could endanger relations with Clergy.

The GME editors informed me that they have no doubt that the purpose of the purchase is purely of an investment nature, to make money, as the prince is known for doing with a wide range of global investments, with no ulterior censorship related motive.

The Kingdom’s executive director Ahmed Halawani told Reuters that “substantial capital gain” was the motivation behind the investment, adding that there were no moves to ask for a board seat or influence strategy at Twitter.

Shamil expressed some concern “just like any purchase by a person of power within the Kingdom, investor pressure could be brought to bear on a myriad of issues at anytime, where restrictions could be made to apply in the Kingdom itself, which already has censorship. This could result in some influence on blocking Gay, lesbian, LGBT tweets, but only in the Kingdom itself. ”

Littauer notes blocking of the use of the word “gay”  and associated LGBT terms via BING – the microsoft flagship search engine, a Company in which the Saudi family has an investment-  has been a practice by the Kingdom and other Arab countries. “There is always a possibility that restrictions could filter though the Prince holding such an investment when it comes to suppression of certain tweet subjects in the Kingdom itself. But this may be no different to what they are already able to do.”

Littauer reminded me of an article his Group published a year ago relating to BING.


8 thoughts on “Saudi Prince Investment in Twitter Could Impact Gay Tweets within Kingdom

    1. Yes and know but read carefully….. there is the element of influence – Read the BING artticle on GME and you can see the possibilities,.,

  1. …as it’s been said many times before~ history is written by the “winners”.

    In time, our entire civilisation, in recorded documents, will resemble nothing like it is in fact now.

    Once the few (the elite, top 1-3%) own everything, history will be re-written.

    I’d like to see one successful, not-sold-out, news organisation in each country of the globe…Unfortunately, they end up selling out due to pressure from the “elite”…

    1. Yes i find the sale disappointing because it has been bought by someone who has maintained ties, despite his so called liberal view on life, to a country that beheads women for sorcerey. Its so hard to palate!

  2. According to my Brother in Law (who knows FAR more about these things than I ever will):

    “Bypassing a sites filtering is similar to bypassing an isps filtering, it may seem like it would be easier if you own the site to block out certain groups of people but its not the case. the only way to stop the flow of information is cut off ALL the sources – increasingly difficult and extremely unlikely. unless you live in north korea.”

    So, I’m not sure if tweets about certain subjects could be blocked on twitter like it could be for a search engine?

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