Facebook Friendships Across Borders

In an effort to totally not do what I should be doing (reading, writing), I’ve been playing with this interactive Mapping the World’s Friendships map from Facebook Stories. The map shows Facebook relationships between people based on their listed country, highlighting the top country-wide connections. Clicking on various countries, there are some downright unexpected connections. From the article that follows the map:

[A]s we did a little research, some unusual connections become surprisingly clear. We learned that immigration between Japan and Brazil dates back to the 1970s, that Poles are the largest immigrant group in Iceland, and that more people commute across the border each day to work in Liechtenstein than Liechtensteiner locals going to work in their own country.

Immigration is one of the strongest links that seems to bind these Facebook neighbors, as thousands of people pour over borders or over seas, seeking jobs or fleeing violence, and making new connections and maintaining old friendships along the way. Economic links, through trade or investment, also seem to be strong predictors of country connectedness. And finally, one of the most overwhelming trends we found as we explored this graphic is the strong tie that remains between nations and their former colonizers, whose continued linguistic, cultural, and economic ties still echo today.

It’s worth clicking around and looking for the weird relationships, like the fact that Zambia’s top five connections are all its neighbors, but the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s top five are neighbors like Uganda and Zambia, Anglophone West Africans Ghana and Nigeria, and…. Ecuador. Relatedly, the DRC is the second on the list of connections if you click on Brazil. Meanwhile, Central African Republic’s top five include only one African country (neighboring DRC) and then a bunch of Asian countries.

Anyways, you should go play with the map. It raises a lot of questions, and only some answers are easy to come by.


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