Deconstructing 500 Million Friends
On my blog, I analyzed and critiqued a map prepared by Paul Butler on Facebook Friendships, as I thought it would be exciting to rid the image of some of its bias and glean more information than just distribution of Facebook users worldwide. I attempted to reconstruct the image, based on a cartography projection more friendly to the surfaces of countries and continents than the Cartesian coordinates that Butler used. This technique enabled me to compare my reconstructed Facebook map with maps of the distributions of other global phenomena, including World Population, World Electrification, World Internet Connectivity, and World Social Networking Usage.
In this visualization, I have taken the famous map of nighttime illumination in 2003, developed by NASA from multiple satellite images. Superimposing the map of the Facebook presence (blue) with the map of illumination (white) can differentiate areas where lack of Facebook is an absence or weakness in energy infrastructure - as in tropical Africa - and the areas where people are connected to electricity but where Facebook is rarely used: the whole of Asia (including Japan) except Indonesia, the territories of the former USSR, South Africa, the Latin America except Argentina and Chile.