Social Networking: Regional or Global?

I just read a great post on social networking sites by Fred Stutzman of ClaimID. It got me thinking about how social networking sites seem to be more regional than other online communities. Open source software communities tend to be very diverse with contributions from around the world on the more popular open source products. Using Google Trends (highly unscientific), people from around the world search for Flickr with countries from Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia making up the top 10. It was also interesting to note that Singapore and Ireland topped the list with the United States as the number 6 region.

I mentioned a few days ago that MySpace seemed to be popular mostly in the US. Stutzman’s post highlighted a number of social networking sites that I was not very familiar with, and he talked about how many were popular in specific regions: Cyworld in South Korea, Bebo in the UK, Hi5 in India, and Faceparty in the UK.

Because of their nature, social networking sites seem to be regional. This could be due to cultural differences in the ways that people interact socially, or it could be something else entirely. The phenomenon is global with people around the world participating on social networking sites, and it would be interesting to see some better data on why the implementation seems to be at the regional level.