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Developing nations adopting social media quickly

As citizens in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Russia, and India get access to the Internet, they join social networks at a high rate, according to a Pew report.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Pew Research Center

Not as many people in developing countries have access to the Internet as those in more developed areas of the world, but when they do get on the Web, they are more likely to join a social-networking site, according to a Pew Research Center report released today.

The report -- which looked at the state of social media globally based a survey of 21 nations -- found the majority of Internet users in Mexico, Brazil, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Russia, and India use social media.

"Once people in these countries are online, they generally become involved in social networks at high rates," the report reads.

This is compared with more economically-developed countries of Japan and Germany, where only half of Internet users are on social networks. The growth of social-networking sites in developing countries falls in line with the direction of companies like Facebook, which is putting efforts into countries where there is still a lot of opportunity for growth.

The Pew report shows how the adoption of cell phones have led the way for this growth. The median percent of the world's population who own a cell phone was 87 percent, with 26 percent using the Internet on their phones. In 12 countries surveyed by Pew, at least six in ten smartphone users go on social networks with their phones.

There are a ton of stats in the report about social media and smartphone use, but here are some of the highlights:

• The most talked about topics on social media are music and movies, but people also post about community issues, sports, and politics. In Arab countries, the skew is toward community issues and politics. In Egypt and Tunisia -- countries that had a major part in the Arab Spring, an event that was largely fueled by social media -- more than six in ten social network users share their political views, compared to a medium of 34 percent in other countries.

• In 19 of 21 countries, about three in ten or more adults use sites like Facebook, including about half in Britain, the U.S., Russia, Spain, and the Czech Republic. The only two countries with the percentage of adults on social media were India (6 percent) and Pakistan (4 percent).

• Smartphone users in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America are less likely to use their phones to gather information, except for those in India, Egypt and China. Sixty percent of smart phone users in India rely on their phones for information about their job. Sixty-five percent of Egyptians, and 48 percent of Chinese people are more likely to use their mobile phones to search about politics.

See the full report here.