If Google and Facebook Were Empires: Age of Internet Map

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If the most visited websites became the ruler of each country, what would a map of the world look like?  Styled as a old colonial map, researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) took data from Alexa which tracks commercial web traffic data and created a map they refer to as the Age of Internet Empires, modeled after the computer game Age of Empire.  Dr Mark Graham, the Director of Research and Senior Research Fellow and Stefano De Sabbata, a researcher at OII pulled data from Alexa on August 12, 2013.  Alexa’s country by country traffic rank data compares Internet sites against all others by combining estimated average daily unique visitors and  and the estimated number of pageviews for each domain over a three month period.

The end product is a map highlighting the most visited website per country.  Not all of the countries had data available.  Graham and De Sabbata noted, “Alexa does not provide much information about countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, most countries that have a significant Internet population are covered. Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, and South Africa fall within the sphere of Google’s empire, whereas Ghana, Senegal, and Sudan have been subsumed within Facebook’s dominion.”    The base GIS data for the map was created using Natural Earth.

On a country count basis, Google ranks first with 62 countries where its the most visited Internet domain.  Facebook is the only other domain that dominates with fifty countries where it ranks first.  Despite its properties beating Google in Internet traffic recently, Yahoo! only dominates in Japan and Taiwan on the map.  Baidu also ranks first in two countries: China and South Korea.  Al-Watan Voice (a Palestinian newspaper),  email service Mail.ru in Kazakhstan, social network VK in Belarus, search engine Yandex in Russia each rank first in one country.

Age of Internet Empires Map showing the most visited website in each country based on Alexa web traffic ranking.  By Stefano De Sabbata and Dr Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute.

Age of Internet Empires Map showing the most visited website in each country based on Alexa web traffic ranking. By Stefano De Sabbata and Dr Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute.

As the researchers noted, plotted out as a map of Internet domination by country, the reach by population can hard to understand.  When looked at by population, the reach of Baidu, which only dominates China and Korea, actually accounts for half a billion Internet users.  Google still dominates by population with its domain reaching one billion users in the countries that it dominates.  Facebook which ranks first in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and South America, only collectively represents a population of 280 million Internet users.  Graham and De Sabbata also created an area cartogram map showing the most visited website per country weighted by population which allows the reach of services like Baidu and Yahoo! to become more prominent while downplaying the reach of Facebook.

Most visited website per country, weighted by population.  Cartogram map by Stefano De Sabbata and Dr Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute.

Most visited website per country weighted by population. Cartogram map by Stefano De Sabbata and Dr Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute.


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