Facebook taking off even in Japan

Facebook use has taken off dramatically in Japan all of a sudden. It’s now at 30% of Japanese, “a huge increase on last month’s figures, at just 16%,” AsianCorrespondent.com reports, citing Nielsen figures. At the beginning of last year the figure was under 2% and Mixi.jp was the dominant social network site. Here’s a fascinating possible explanation: “The Tokyo Times reports that, following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in March, last year, Japanese became much more interested in the real-life happenings of people. At the time of the disaster, phone lines became jammed with too many users and many people turned to social networking services to send and receive information to and from their loved ones.” Unlike Mixi, where users have a degree of anonymity, Facebook users generally very openly represent themselves and their everyday lives. I remember that when I lived and worked as a reporter in Japan many moons ago, it was considered a bit rude to state one’s opinion publicly, and it was very hard to conduct “man-on-the-street” interviews with a videocamera. It’s fascinating to consider that Japan’s terrific struggles with natural and nuclear-power disasters may be changing this to some degree. But there will always be cultural influences, which is good news for Mixi and other indigenous services, even though Mixi reportedly has lost some 60 million users so far this year. These services that allow people to be anonymous and so “speak freely” and with psychological or cultural “safety” probably complement Facebook-type communications. [Meanwhile, Bahrain is seeing a surge in social media use: “More than 120,000 people in Bahrain have joined social media networks since last year,” HispanicBusiness.com reports. “There are 340,000 active Facebook users and more than 60,000 people on Twitter,” it added (out of a total of 900,000 Internet users and an overall population of about 1.2 million in Bahrain).]

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