Social networking is an internet phenomena and as such not limite to political borders. It spread rather quickly around the globe and is now as a range of maps recently has shown present on al continents as an important part of internet usage. THere are of course great variations between the locations as factors of actual internet accessibility.
Image taken from globalwebindex / THe ranking of Social Network penetration by country. Not sure why Japan is so low. This depends on the definition of Social Networking presumably which is not provided.
Mashable describs the research: "The research, run by London-based consultancy Trendstream, has conducted six waves of surveys about global consumer adoption of the Internet and social media in 36 markets. It used data from its February 2011 surveys of between 750 and 2,000 online users in each market to define three behavior types: messagers, groupers and content sharers."
Image taken from globalwebindex / The global usage of Social networking. The grey circle show total number where the colours characterise the different group of use characteristics. Click for large image.
GlobalWeg Index explains the map as: "This shows the universe size of active social networkers for each market and then segments users into three behaviour types: Messagers, Groupers and Content Sharers. This behavioural data is based on a number of detailed questions we conduct into the way that consumers use social networks. Because social networking is now so big and touches every aspect of our internet experience, this detail is essential for the effective planning and implementation of marketing activity across social networks. This data reveals that users across the world are very different in how they utilise their network, with more focus on messaging and less on content sharing in established markets like the US and UK but more focus on content and groups in fast growing markets like Indonesia and China."
These three different groups are shown on the map as with three different colours red for messages and mailers, blue for content sharers and green for group focused. The observed countries behave differently and from this study it seems that content sharing is more important in Asia, where messaging is more often used in the West. Indi seems to be the main marked for groups. Overall Asia and especially China is the largest market, with 155m users even now overtaking the US, with about 114m users. It is definitely the largest growing market.
Africa is as expected the smallest market compared to individual European or Asian countries. Some of the results are surprising such as the low number in Australia and rather high number in Poland. Also the visualisation is rather misleading with the results evenly distributed across the globe when it actually only is looking at certain countries. The map visually looks as if it covers everything. Stronger colouring in the actual locations or clearer association of the graphs with the country would probably help.
Nevertheless it provides a great overview and gives a feeling for the state of the social network usage globally.