Facebook not always king of the hill
London – You sometimes hear Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talking of his noble ambition to “connect the world”, as if there are parts of the globe full of withdrawn folk who are unable to form relationships and are waiting for him to ride to their rescue with photo sharing, instant messaging and interminable games.
But, this isn’t the case. Every country with internet access has its favourite social network, and what’s galling for Zuckerberg is that it’s not always his. His battle is really one of domination, to turn the world navy blue; a bit like a game of Risk, but a game of Risk in which Goldman Sachs occasionally chucks $450 million (R3 billion) to one of the players to give them an advantage.
This Risk-ian metaphor for the changing shape of the world’s social networks has been shown in infographics produced by an Italian blogger, Vincenzo Cosenza. He’s been using data from web-ranking service Alexa.com to produce a colour-coded world map of the most popular social networks by country. It’s striking to see how many have been turning blue of late.
Eighteen months ago, the honours were shared by 17 social networks, including long-forgotten online destinations like Friendster (which, after being deserted by Western users, eventually became Indonesia’s top social media hub).
But in his graphic from last month, that number is down to 11. Facebook has now taken the lead in Hungary (beating local competitor iWiW), Poland (Nasza Klasa) and many other countries, too.
But let’s hear it for the websites pluckily holding out. The popularity of both QZone and RenRen within China doesn’t count; that’s like beating a team that haven’t turned up, with Facebook banned due to government restrictions. Iran, however, choose to embrace cloob.com, not Zuckerberg’s baby. In Western Europe, The Netherlands is a lone state battling on all fronts with its Hyves service, while Russia and a number of its former republics shun Facebook in favour of V Kontakte, Draugiem or the wonderfully named Odnoklassniki. But it’s Brazil and Japan that are proving Facebook’s most stubborn opponents.
Orkut, a social media site operated by Google, has been the most popular in Brazil for years.
Barely 2 percent of the online Japanese population use Facebook, compared to 60 percent in the US. Their loyalties are divided between three sites: Mixi, Gree, and Mobage-Town; all offer the kind of anonymity and pseudonymity that Facebook, with its insistence on real names, doesn’t allow, and as a result a privacy-conscious Japan has given the world’s biggest social media site an extremely wide berth. （source:iol.co）