Southeast Asia’s Facebook revolution

I’m still rather a novice at Facebook, and I often wonder why so many Thais like to take photos of their food.

But I am becoming increasingly aware of how much it is used to produce and exchange information, independent of the usual media outlets. I have previously written about Facebook’s use in promoting subversive, and even seditious, views of contemporary Thailand.  According to one source almost 12.5 million Thais now have Facebook. The growth has been dramatic, with more than four million new users in the past 6 months.

However, growth in one of Thailand’s regional neighbours, Indonesia, has been even more dramatic. According to an interesting post on the excellent new Circuit blog (which explores the relationship between communication technology and international relations) Indonesia is one of the fastest growing Facebook markets in the world. It is now ranked third in terms of the total number of Facebook users.

Why has Facebook been so successful in Indonesia? Here is an extract:

Sociocultural factors emphasising network building could be an interesting factor. Indonesia has been at the forefront of social networking in South-East Asia since the mid-2000s. Some anthropologists argue Indonesian society exhibits cultural traits emphasising extensive network building and de-emphasising deep interpersonal relationships in small numbers. Facebook allows users to friend others  they may only ‘know’ in the most abstract way, or even strangers, whereas Friendster restricted users to only friending people within four degrees of separation. Does this have anything to do with Facebook’s rise – at least over Friendster? Scholars suggest these network building practices are uniquely Indonesian – distinguished from other so-called collectivist societies by an emphasis on building networks with limited intimacy.  Other cultures – such as South Korea’s – emphasise strong but less extensive networks.

Read the full post here. How do Thai social, cultural and political practices influence the spread of Facebook?

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About Andrew Walker