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LinkAsia | Jan 7
LinkAsia is jumping on the "year-end list" bandwagon by asking our contributors what the top words in social media were throughout Asia in 2012. To...
Speaking of social media, nowadays it feels like Facebook is everywhere. With more than 500 million users, a net worth of $50 billion, and even an Oscar-winning movie based on its founder, Facebook is a global phenomenon that has no limits. Or does it? As our contributor from Tokyo, Toshi Maeda, found out, Facebook isn't such a big hit in Japan. In fact, it doesn't have many friends there at all.
Apparently, there are two major reasons why Facebook is struggling in Japan. One is privacy, particularly, concerning the use of real names. I would say Japan is a pretty "anonymous" country. For example, when we interview people on the street, they often refuse to give their names. And even on television news programs, Japanese reporters often use just people's titles and not their names. So a lot of Japanese are obviously not used to a system like Facebook, where people can find your real name, real picture, and real personal connections. And the reason number two would be the existing domestic rivals. There are three Japanese SNS giants, and two of them, Mixi and GREE, started way back in 2004, just around the same time Facebook was launched in the United States. This is an example of Mixi's "friends" page. Here, nobody's using their real full name. Many of them just go by their so-called "handle" names, such as Tarzan, Sakura, and Neet. Another major SNS site in Japan is called Moba-ge, which is short for Mobile Game. This social networking site is basically targeting mobile users and they are attracting a lot of youngers users by offering a wide variety of free games to play on those long commuter rides to and from school or work. Each of these Japanese domestic sites has more than 20 million users, and they are dominating Japan's social networking services market. I'm Toshi Maeda in Tokyo.