Social Media’s Impact on Developing Countries

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.

Great map of social media networks used in different countries.


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.

8 thoughts on “Social Media’s Impact on Developing Countries

  1. Those statistics and the fact that social media is still so new gave me some perspective on how little we have seen and how much is in our future. You’re right; we are just getting started when it comes to the benefits of social media. I think it is very important to see how other countries are using social media to make sure we are using it to its full potential. I am very excited to see what the next few years bring for social media in the workplace.

  2. I think one of the main issues of social media growing in developing countries is the access to the Internet in general. Many of those countries do not have the access to use a computer. To other countries who have developed the accessibility, social media is continuing to grow because it connects so many people around the world and builds that stronger community, a place where people can discuss issues, topics, etc. with people outside of their own area. I think the use of social media is also turning to protests and political topics due to the development of the countries. It will be very interesting to see how these countries change the way they use social media and which platforms emerge as the most common.

  3. I think the increase of social media in developing countries is a fantastic thing. Although not every citizen of a town or village may have access to the internet, there only need to be a few people linked to social media to spread the news across the town or village. This is especially great for countries that have government controlled media (TV and newspapers.) Now citizens can learn about what is actually happening in their country and in the rest of the world through social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

  4. I’m really curious to know how fast the internet is in Africa and other developing countries. But anyways, I like how you mentioned African tribes like the Zulus because I really wonder what they hope to accomplish with social media. I’m not saying that the Zulus have no capabilities to use social media, its just that I don’t think they would use social media because of their cultural values. But, I may be wrong.

  5. Really interesting and thoughtful post. I would suggest, if this is something you are interested in, checking out Simon Mainwaring’s book WE FIRST. In it he offer some really thoughtful uses of social media connecting the developing world. He also offer some exciting predictions for how it can be used in the future.

  6. Social media in foreign countries is definitely an interesting topic. I believe many of this issues are as we discussed in class today. Social media is a tool to help movements, businesses, whatever the cause. In developing countries this has less affect of movements, but there are also more reasons to create movements. In Buenos Aires there are protests every day and organization is often spread through text and forms of social media like Facebook. It is interesting to look at the availability of technology and the problems in many developing nations to which I’m writing my blog post on for this class in a few minutes.

  7. This was a really interesting post showing how much expansion there still is to be done and the possibilities that arise from being such a connected world via the Internet. It’s exciting to see so much potential still to be met but it will also be interesting to see new problems that arise in developing countries. Technology is so powerful and there is so much that can be done to connect the world using social media, it will be exciting to see what the future brings.

  8. I think that the potential of social media grows increasingly each day and that its outreach is expanding constantly. We already know that social media networks have the capacity to make their mark in foreign countries but I think it’s hard to determine how they will be able to survive. The countries that social media networks are trying to break into may not be as rapid and efficient with making technological updates as we are in the States. I think that these slower developing countries will benefit from the communication and outward contact of social media and the support it can bring to their countries.

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