Facebook – Bigger than the Internet?!?

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Just following up on yesterday’s installment I stumbled over this article by Leo Mirnai that seems to confirm that many folks using Facebook don’t actually know they are on the Internet.  Sounds strange?  You bet, but check out some of the survey results.

In Africa, researcher Christoph Stork stumbled upon a baffling discrepancy in his survey results.   . Looking at results from a survey on communications use for Research ICT Africa, Stork found what looked like an error. The number of people who had responded saying they used Facebook was much higher than those who said they used the Internet. The discrepancy accounted for some 3 percent to 4 percent of mobile phone users, he says.

Facebook is bigger than the Internet in some places

Facebook is bigger than the Internet in some places

Since at least 2013, Facebook has been making noises about connecting the entire world to the Internet. But even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s operations head, admits that there are Facebook users who don’t know they’re on the Internet. So is Facebook succeeding in its goal if the people it is connecting have no idea they are using the Internet? And what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?

 

This is more than a matter of semantics. The expectations and behaviors of the next billion people to come online will have profound effects on how the Internet evolves. If the majority of the world’s online population spends time on Facebook, then policymakers, businesses, startups, developers, nonprofits, publishers, and anyone else interested in communicating with them will also, if they are to be effective, go to Facebook.

Measuring Facebook penetration versus Internet penetration is tricky business. Internet penetration numbers come from national regulators and from estimates by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN body. These are generally months if not years old. Facebook numbers come from Facebook’s advertising platform. These can be tricky, too. Some people have more than one account. Some accounts are rarely used. And some people access Facebook through phones with only the most basic of online features, in which case it is hard to argue that they really are using the Internet in any meaningful way.

 

Check out the rest of the article here [TheAtlantic] – very interesting take with a lot of thought and research behind the premise

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