The Un-Facebook World

With social networking literally taking over the world, it seems like if you are breathing, you probably are on Twitter, Facebook, or one of the other new social sites that are constantly popping up.  According to a recent ICTWorks article, Facebook usage is doubling every seven months in Africa; and it is driving ICT development on the continent by spurring interest in investing in internet access and computers.

But with Facebook users spanning the world, it raises the question – Who isn’t on Facebook?

The UnFacebook World, created by Ian Wojtowicz, mashes NASA’S Earth at Night and Facebook’s Friendship Map to illuminate the locations of those elusive non-Facebookers. On the image, the dark lines are Facebook usage and the bright yellow dots are where there are population centers that have bright lights at night but no Facebook friends. By subtracting the Facebook map from the NASA one, we can see the stark contrast between the ancient technologies of situated human settlement (rendered visible by electric light) and disembodied electronic communication.

The UnFacebook Map

For example, notice that São Tomé and Príncipe have electricity but no Facebook and the millions in Rwanda, Burundi, and DRC have neither Facebook nor electrical lights at night. This is a stark visual reminder that not everyone one is on FB, regardless of the hype.

close-up of Africa

Here and here are some sources that touch on this topic.


4 responses to “The Un-Facebook World

  • jessalynkunz

    Thanks for sharing this! With how widespread social media is in the US its a good reminder to see where this luxury is not available. There is no denying that there are still a huge number of people in Africa without Facebook, its important to see though that there is a huge population with it. The map raises many questions however. Why is there such high incidence of electricity but no Facebook in the North? Also what is it about certain areas that have resulted in such dense concentration of Facebook usage? This map has a lot of power because of this ability to raise important questions.

  • ssimon1

    I had a lot of the same questions that you raised. I think this map is a really cool idea and prompts some interesting lines of thought. Seeing a map that not only represents physical location but also a sort of virtual location says a lot about the importance of technology in the developing world. I would definitely like to see more visual representations like this one, possibly accompanied by more in depth explanations next time.

  • msingh2

    I find this map really interesting and think it is a really creative way to show the representation of Facebook users worldwide. With they hype of the social media today, it truly does seem as if you can find anyone on either Facebook or Twitter. Yet, with this map it’s evident that the usage is more concentrated in some areas rather than others. One thing I’m interested in finding out is why some areas, even with access to sufficient electricity, don’t show much Facebook activity. Could their be cultural or educational barriers within the community? I think this map poses many questions like these that should be looked upon.

  • etherspace

    I was wondering how much Facebook use was connected with access, interest and censorship. In China, clearly while technology is more advanced, the people are cut off from social media like Facebook though censorship. Perhaps in other areas where there is less electricity, people who would like to be on facebook, but have no access. Perhaps is some areas, like Brazil (for example) people simply have less interest. In Brazil, Orkut is much more a much more popular social media site. So, even though they have easy access to Facebook, they choose alternatives. Social Media, especially Facebook, is a huge player worldwide, but it is important to remember that not everyone is part of it.

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