I can’t comment on the stats she reports from Semiocast as I happen to be an employee of Twitter and Twitter does not publish country-wise numbers. But those stats are beside the point. Whatever they are, Sarah’s reasons have got to be incorrect because of the data presented in Facebook’s S-1 filing. To quote the relevant paragraph from Facebook’s S-1 [emphasis mine]:
As of December 31, 2011, we had 845 million MAUs, an increase of 39% from December 31, 2010. We experienced growth across different geographies, with users in Brazil and India representing a key source of growth. We had 161 million MAUs in the United States as of December 31, 2011, an increase of 16% from the prior year. We had 37 million MAUs in Brazil as of December 31, 2011, an increase of 268% from the prior year. Additionally, we had 46 million MAUs in India as of December 31, 2011, an increase of 132% from the prior year.
In other words, Facebook seems to be doing great in India. In fact, by some estimates, India is number 2 country for Facebook after the US.
All the four reasons mentioned by Sarah in her blog post (small online population, dysfunctional democracy, English not really being that common, not so rich middle class)
are not specific to Twitter and if they were right, Facebook’s stats in India would not have been what they are. As simple as that.
Understanding why (and when) any network gets popular in a certain region is a very difficult question. Social scientists (and more recently CS researchers) have grappled with it from many angles, and without much success. It would have been more interesting if @sarahcuda had blogged her thoughts about those nuances instead of using such a broad brush. (To be fair, she does express her surprise at the stats even given her “reasons”, but the thrust of the blog post is about coming up with generic reasons to explain the reported stats.)