By: Alexandra Kuhle
Twitter: @allykuhle LinkedIn: Alexandra Kuhle
Social networking sites have become a global phenomenon. They help us share as little or as much as we want about our lives from our views on politics to how we felt about our meal last night. As we talked about during Tuesday’s class with our guest speaker, social media has gone beyond just updating our status and changing into a gateway for citizens to learn about what is going on in their communities. In Russia, tweet updates and Livejournal posts helped to educate Russia’s population about the happenings of their government. In a country where the media is controlled by the government many have turned to social media sites to get information about what is going on without having it be censored in any way.
This got me thinking about the impact of social media and its impact on people in other countries, specifically developing countries. I found surprising statistics from an article Social Network Popularity Around the World that used Google Insights for Search to find out what countries use what social media networks the most.
Looking at these statistics I would have thought many of these social media sites would easily be the most popular in the United States but that is not the case. That LinkedIn is most popular in India and that Facebook is most popular in Turkey and Canada were most surprising to me. As we talked about in class, Russia has a big following on LiveJournal as that is one of the ways people are able to discuss news and share information.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming huge in countries that you wouldn’t think would have a strong market for such sites. Asia and Africa being in that category is a big surprise. A quote from the article A Social Media Boom Begins in Africa explains the expanding number of online users:
“The widespread availability of mobile phones means that the mobile Web can reach tens of millions more than the wired Web.” Mr. Tetzchner believes that like mobile phones, whose use has grown rapidly in Africa in recent years, the “mobile Web is beginning to reshape the economic, political and social development of the continent.”
Companies are jumping at the chance to cater to Africa’s growing Internet users. Facebook launched their site in major African languages (including Swahili, Hausa, and Zulu) and Google has been testing a new service for Swahili speakers. African programmers are designing and testing new platforms to keep the African online conversation going.
Yes many potential members for these networks face a lot of challenges such as access to Internet. But, just looking at the success Facebook has already had in developing countries, almost a million people are registered on Facebook in Egypt alone, it seems we are just at the beginning of something big. Using social media not just for leisure but also for knowledge sharing could be the future in places such as Africa or Asia. What if using social media could bring to the forefront pressuring issues and generating ideas to tackle them? Social media networks are just gaining speed and there is no stopping them anytime soon.