Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on June 01, 2009
Indonesians still seem to be talking about the suggestion by some Muslim clerics last week that the government should regulate Facebook to prevent users in Indonesia from trading gossip or accessing porn. The Jakarta Post on Saturday ran a piece by Ary Hermawan with the great headline, “Thou Shall Not Facebook.” (Here’s a link, via UCLA’s AsiaMedia site.) Peter Gelling, writing in the Global Post, has another useful take on the story. Some eye openers: According to Gelling, Indonesia has the world’s fifth-largest Facebook population, behind the U.S., Britain, France and Italy. (This despite the fact that Internet penetration in Indonesia last year was just 10.5% of the total population.) Moreover, according to Gelling, Facebook has become “the most visited website” in the country.
Luckily for Facebook, the suggestion that the Indonesian government crack down on the social networking site seems to be going nowhere. The story does highlight, though, the potential that the company has in a part of the world that often gets forgotten. In Asia, China and India are the big markets that matter. But Facebook is an also-ran in China, where local companies rule, and it’s a laggard in India, too, well behind Google’s Orkut. (Thanks to Thomas Crampton’s blog for linking to a survey by comScore on the Indian market.) Facebook seems to have hit fertile ground in Indonesia, a market with plenty of room still to grow - objections from some religious leaders notwithstanding.
BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.