A recent graphic from Le Monde illustrates the geographic variation in popularity of different social networking services across the world. The graphic, based on data from August 2007, shows that while MySpace and Facebook have an unsurprising stranglehold on the North American market, things are very different in the rest of the world.
Bebo leads the market in Europe, with the US’s big two being split by French equivalent Skyblog, an enterprise whose growth has been attracting comment for some time and whose parent site, Skyrock, is currently ranked seventeenth in the world by Alexa. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Skyblog also has a relatively strong presence in parts of Africa, although Facebook is the clear leader there.
Friendster may be the wallflower at the west’s web party, but it’s a strong favourite in Asia, while Google baby Orkut dominates South America due largely to its phenomenal popularity in Brazil. Although a large number of LiveJournal‘s users are American, its position as the social networking site of choice in Russia is evident.
Social networking sites are clearly a large part of many people’s lives, whether they are used to keep in touch with friends, make interminable lists of favourite films/smells/lists or to spoil Christmas. The playfulness of early Friendster fakesters has given way to misguided attempts at humour and spite, but sites can also be used to raise awareness about more serious issues. Are such sites just a fad? Only time, and demographics, will tell.