March 28, 2011

Social Map: Placebook

I recently came across Social Map: Placebook, the 2010 winner of the NACIS: Student Web Mapping Competition.  The stated aim of Placebook is:
to give [a] more accurate idea on how are Facebook users [are] distributed around the world.

It's an excellent application.  I found that the most powerful feature of Placebook was not the map but rather the additional graphics used to visualize social data.  You can choose to explore:

  • absolute counts of the number of users per country,
  • the proportion of users in each country with Facebook accounts, and
  • (structure) the distribution of Facebook users by age-group in each country.

Placebook includes controls for focusing on regions (World, Europe, North Americas, South Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania).  You can also sort the data to find interesting artefacts.  For example, I discovered that in Serbia & Montenegra a striking 77% of under-18 year olds have Facebook accounts; a significant outlier (Albania is a distant second at 30%).  The data was obtained in August 2010 using the "impact estimator" of Facebook's advertising interface.
You can also login to your own Facebook account to visualize the demographics of your own social network.  However, I chose not to as it gives Placebook access to your personal information and that of your friends.