Wednesday, July 21, 2010

93% of the world is not on Facebook

Facebook will today announce that it has reached 500 million users. This number is incredible, and perhaps even more impressive is the rate at which the social network is growing. Just five months ago they had 400 million users. The site’s user base has grown by 25% in less than half a year. Incredible stuff.

The problem is that huge numbers like this can stop us from examining them in more detail and acknowledging what they don’t tell us as much as what they do. It is true that Facebook usage is growing at an incredible rate and large numbers of people use the social network. But let’s not get carried away by this. In some countries, Facebook is not the most popular social network – in the Netherlands it is Hyves, in Brazil Orkut and in Russia Vkontakte. In other countries social networks are not yet the main way that people interact online – they use message boards, forums, blogs and other social media tools. And, of course, in other countries still they use of social networks is very low.

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