The sun never sets – How Facebook connections mirror old empires

Published on The Economist, March 19, 2012.

EIGHT years ago Facebook launched as an online social network connecting a small college community from a dorm room at Harvard University. Today the company has 845m active users across the globe and a wealth of data. One aspect of these data, which Facebook has shared with The Economist, shows a rough correlation between current global Facebook friendships and the old boundaries of once-mighty European empires. 

The maps below rank 214 countries according to the strength of their ties to Britain, France, Spain and Portugal respectively. The darker the blue the higher the fraction of foreign Facebook connections with the imperial power in question … (full text, maps of The Facebook empire and links to related articles).

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