Facebook statistics

Everybody and their brother knows about Facebook these days. Whether finding old high school classmates, building one’s professional network, or sharing photos among friends, Facebook has many uses to millions of users. There’s a new feature on the website for advertisers that allows the ad buyer the ability of progressively narrowing down a target audience by selecting and excluding demographic data. The side benefit of this is that we can parse Facebook’s user data and get a better understanding of its audience and reach.

Here are the top countries represented on Facebook (users):
1. United States 19,951,900
2. Canada 7,361,720
3. United Kingdom 6,407,580
4. Australia 1,498,320
5. South Africa 605,820
6. France 429,540
7. Norway 891,480
8. Sweden 827,940
9. Mexico 393,940
10. Egypt 376,480
11. Columbia 359,220
12. Turkey 327,760
13. India 287,500
14. Germany 259,760
15. New Zealand 208,000
16. United Arab Emirates 188,600
17. Singapore 180,660
18. Spain 178,900
19. Lebanon 163,720
20. Ireland 131,660
21. Italy 121,000
22. Saudi Arabia 115,980
23. Pakistan 115,240
24. Netherlands 109,840
25. Switzerland 99,600
26. Malaysia 98,060
27. Japan 95,340
28. Israel 94,180
29. China 83,640
30. South Korea 51,080
31. Dominican Republic 33,060

In Canada, the male/female breakdown is:
2,507,620 male
3,431,280 female

The top cities in Canada are:
1,326,280 Toronto
549,600 Montreal
346,020 Vancouver
317,700 Halifax
275,820 Ottawa
186,620 Winnipeg
432,060 Calgary
365,120 Edmonton

In Canada, the political breakdown is:
618,240 Liberal
236,540 Moderate
281,840 Conservative

The male/female breakdown of these figures are (m/f)
282,220/291,300 Liberal
126,360/94,480 Moderate
158,020/104,460 Conservative

As one goes through college/university in Canada, does one become more or less Liberal or Conservative?
Conservative:
Freshmen 3,420
Sophomores 4,300
Juniors 4,440
Seniors 4,760

conservativesovertime.jpg
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Liberal:
9,740 Fresmen
13,160 Sophomores
14,500 Juniors
16,840 Seniors

liberalsovertime.jpg

Note the slopes on both graphs. The Conservative graph has a slope of y=416x meaning that as each year goes by, with all else being equal, we can infer that the university experience produces 416 more Conservatives each year of school. Likewise, the slope of the Liberal graph is y=2264x meaning that if our assumptions are the same, we can infer that the university experience produces 2264 more Liberals per year of the undergraduate experience. It would be beneficial to measure the data over four years, but we can hypothesize from this data that universities are having the effect of producing Liberals over Conservatives at 4:1 per year.

(Note that these figures are taken for individuals at the current time, a changing trend is only inferred. All we know for sure is there are more partisans/idelogues in both camps in later years of undergraduate.)

Let’s take a look at how politics breaks down at each Canadian university
University Liberal/Moderate/Conservative
Acadia 360/80/60

acadia-graph.jpg
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Bishop’s 180/40/60

bishops-graph.jpg
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Brock 1,040/320/420

brock-graph.jpg
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Carleton 2,340/740/800

carleton-graph.jpg
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Concordia 1,060/240/120

concordia-graph.jpg
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Dalhousie 1,280/260/280

dalhousie-graph.jpg
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Lakehead 360/120/120

lakehead-graph.jpg
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Laurentian 440/100/100

laurentian-graph.jpg
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McGill 3,360/720/300

mcgill-graph.jpg
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McMaster 2,000/660/760

mcmaster-graph.jpg
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Mount Allison 440/60/60

mounta-graph.jpg
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Nipissing 220/80/80

nipissing-graph.jpg
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Queen’s University 2,220/500/600

queensu-graph.jpg
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Royal Military College 60/60/180

rmc-graph.jpg
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Ryerson 2,020/560/360

ryerson-graph.jpg
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St. Francis Xavier 480/100/180

stfx-graph.jpg
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Simon Fraser University 1,400/440/340

sfu-graph.jpg
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Trent 800/160/180

trent-graph.jpg
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University of Alberta 2,340/900/1,340

ualberta-graph.jpg
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University of British Columbia 3,120/920/620

ubc-graph.jpg
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University of Calgary 1,220/540/840

ucalgary-graph.jpg
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University of Guelph 2,060/460/500

uguelph-graph.jpg
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University of Lethbridge 480/200/440

ulethbridge-graph.jpg
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University of New Brunswick 800/180/220

unb-graph.jpg
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University of Ottawa 2,440/640/620

uottawa-graph.jpg
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U Regina 220/40/80

uregina-graph.jpg
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University of Saskatchewan 620/200/380

usask-graph.jpg
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University of Sherbrooke 80/100/20* (* fewer than 20)

usherbrooke-graph.jpg
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University of Toronto 5,560/1,740/1,140

uoft-graph.jpg
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University of Victoria 1,300/400/280

uvic-graph.jpg
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University of Waterloo 2,380/840/680

waterloo-graph.jpg
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University of Western Ontario 2,820/760/980

uwo-graph.jpg
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University of Windsor 1,140/280/340

uwindsor-graph.jpg
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Wilfrid Laurier University 1,540/420/480

wlu-graph.jpg
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York University 3,520/980/700

york-graph.jpg
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As for the ratio of Liberal students:Conservative students?
Here are the top five (the most Liberal schools in the country by this measure):
McGill 11.2:1
Concordia 8.8:1
Mount Allison 7.3:1
Acadia 6:1
Ryerson 5.6:1

And the bottom five (the most Conservative schools in the country by this measure):
Royal Military College 0.33:1
University of Lethbridge 1.1:1
University of Calgary 1.5:1
University of Saskatchewan 1.6:1
University of Alberta 1.7:1

A bit more about the methodology:
This data was taken from this Facebook page on October 17th, 2007. All data is self-declared by individuals with Facebook profiles.

UPDATE: It appears that Facebook has disabled the feature.

Seen on Facebook

stephen-harper-facebook-stylist.jpg

Ah, the collective knowledge of the internets. Interestingly, both groups have 27 people signed up. When a number of dummy particles meets an equal number of the same with opposite spin, does the universe collapse in on itself?

Political parties should use online social networks like Facebook to rally support and get out their message. However, perhaps we’ll just leave this corner of Facebook alone while inhabitants of that space race America to declare “dominance”, name their children, and pick their champions.

An experiment with unintended results

The CBC wrapped up their Facebook initiative on Canada Day. The Great Canadian Wish certainly provided some unintended consequences, yet it teaches us some truths about social media and its participants.

As an aside, the next time an NDPer boasts that Tommy Douglas is The Greatest Canadian based on the shaky authority of a CBC populist initiative, show them this:

Poor CBC! The only wish that would have made them cringe harder would have been if “Privatize the CBC” had beaten out the rest.

The fate of the CBC isn’t as much of a divisive issue as that of abortion to be sure and that’s where we draw our first conclusion on why the public broadcaster got the results that it did.

Polarizing issues will drive people to mobilize. Frankly, it’s been an effective tool used by the Liberals during the latest rounds of electoral combat. Going nuclear on the Conservative Party meant referencing abortion during the last desperate days of the writ period.

Secondly, anti-abortion activists mobilized quickly and early. They also had the advantage of not representing the status quo; if abortions were illegal, you can bet that the pro-choice wish would have had more traction as it would have indicated a desire for change. The very concept of change is more mobilizing because it is natural to take the status quo for granted. Indeed, the issue of abortion is a real and emotional one for people on both sides of the debate.

CBC also touched on a particular rationale for the presence of the the highly contentious issue: forum. Since the topic of abortion has been one that hasn’t been polled or discussed in any real public sense for years (CBC illustrates this in its report above using Environics as an example), advocates against the practice felt that the Facebook group represented a “back-door” of sorts to bring it front-row-centre on a highly visible stage, the CBC. Are more Canadians on Facebook pro-life rather than pro-choice?

Not necessarily.

Since reproductive choice / access to abortion is the norm in this country, the pro-choice advocates have had the advantage (and in this contest, the disadvantage) of arguing from a comfortable, mainstream position. The most significant motivating factor for pro-choice advocates only came into action when it became apparent that their pro-life foes might actually pull off an upset. The pro-lifers were primarily motivated by the issue, while the pro-choicers were too comforted and slowed by the mainstream acceptance of their position, and were only motivated when that position came under threat. Where the pro-lifers sought to act on the issue, the pro-choicers found their strength in reacting. Since acting comes before reacting, acting had a head-start.

There are parallels, of course, to real life politicking that we can draw from the Facebook/CBC wish initiative. As, I’ve mentioned, emotional issues mobilize support and have been used by parties to get out the vote. The Liberal line was “we may have had some ethics problems in Quebec, but have you heard what the Conservatives want to do to your rights?” Since abortion isn’t actually an issue on the Conservative radar, Conservatives have difficulty appealing to emotion. “Rights” are compelling issues and the Conservatives would be wise to determine where they can successfully leverage their strengths in that domain (Rights for Afghani women and children is compelling). Status quo versus change is also a significant factor as the desire for latter can be a stronger motivator than protecting the former (for Conservatives and Canadians, economic freedom is a compelling right, however, it is the relative status quo). People take the status quo for granted and may only become motivated when a real threat is perceived. Often, these issues may come too late during an election for the reacting party.

Certainly, the CBC experiment had some unintended consequences (I’m sure that they’re thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t commit to making this an 8-part mini-series starring George Strombolopolous), however, I feel that it highlighted some very interesting characteristics of human nature, politics, and evolving social media networks. I wonder if other experiments that test human nature can be conceived and then realized on Facebook?

As an addendum, as a Conservative partisan I was somewhat worried that the prominence of abortion as an issue would have instigated a renewed negative focus on the Conservative Party regarding the topic. Kudos to the CBC for including the clip of Stephen Harper in this report on the CBC/Facebook wish:

UPDATE: Looks like the comments section has erupted into a pro-life vs. pro-choice debate. Consider that the post is actually about human behaviour as it relates to the motivating factors on social networks as a potential snapshot of the real-life world of political mobilization.

Ministerial staffers back on Facebook

I’ve learned that in a reversal of internal government policy this past week, Conservative ministerial staffers are once again permitted to keep a Facebook profile on the popular social networking website.

Indeed, Facebook has become the latest killer online app and for some, it has replaced email for messaging friends and scheduling events and parties.

Earlier, I opined that the ‘corporate’ Facebook ban implemented by the Conservatives on their political staff was a shrewd move made to prevent a hungry media and opposition from exploiting personal material not intended for “front-page” exposure. A complete ban may have been harsh, yet the careless use of the site would have also been less than ideal. Thus, in policy refinement and compromise, the government has found a new optimum that works for everyone.

I’ve learned that each department has been tasked with implementing a policy on the use of Facebook for their staff, particularly concerning which privacy settings ought to be adjusted to both allow employees the use of the popular social networking tool and to allow a government known for its tight messaging to keep any loose ends from sticking out. The policy might be considered analogous to any other employee code of conduct, but this one is specialized for a website.

Ministerial facebookers will be pleased by the move and their employers will remain conscious of how to maintain the ideal balance.

Blogging Tories launches Facebook applications

Blogging Tories was the original political blogroll/aggregator in Canada and today it continues to break new ground.

As many readers already know, the Facebook phenomenon is getting blanket coverage in the media and among bloggers and it is the largest online social network assembled in the history of the world (that may sound like hyperbole… but it’s true). People have reconnected with old buddies from high school, are announcing social get-togethers across their network of Facebook friends and are associating and assembling among shared groups with common interests.

The last time I checked, Facebook had over 9 million users and has recently edged out eBay for daily page-views. (I just re-checked. Facebook has 20 million users)

So, what does this mean for the future of the Internet? I’m not sure, but like Blogging Tories, Facebook is inherently community-based and it would be useful to bridge both media. That’s why when Facebook opened up it’s web architecture to developers and other nerds, I got going trying to figure it out so that Blogging Tories could leverage the ‘other Internet’ that is Facebook.

I’ve developed two Facebook applications. The first application displays the most recent five Blogging Tories postings from the BT aggregator. Now you can add the most recent news and gossip from the Blogging Tories bloggers into your Facebook profile page. There are also useful links into other facets of the BT community available from the application.

The other Facebook application is a “I support Stephen Harper” image switcher. A set of images is contained within the application and the installer of the application can switch to a favourite image and fix it in place for visitors to their profile. Simple yet functional!

Facebook freeze

I was wondering when this would finally happen…

Facebook, perhaps the most popular social networking site in the world where one can build a network among friends, acquaintances and professionals is to no longer be used by Conservative ministerial exempt staff.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long. Facebook pages are like semi-private blogs that can include off-colour comments by colleagues, photos from last night’s bender and can even display deeply personal details such as one’s relationship status and sexual preference. Blogs understandably represented a communications challenge amongst a team that prides itself on tight messaging. Facebook not only represents this same challenge, but also has the potential for being a rich back-channel for opposition researchers, among others.

In fact, a reporter friend once remarked to me that Facebook was a ‘goldmine’ of information. With a few clicks, an industrious Globe and Mail scribe could find out that the press secretary to a Minister was at a Cinco de Mayo party this month, has interests that include “Ayn Rand, fast boats, ATVing and walks on the beach” and has a Guns ‘N Roses tattoo from earlier, less sophisticated
times.

David Akin, another reporter who is actively involved in the Facebook community, earlier wrote about the social networking phenomenon and then unknowingly highlighted what is likely the reasoning behind this recent decision:

“One of the reasons I wanted to be Harper’s FF [Facebook friend] was so that I could see who Harper’s other FFs were. I’m a nosy parker by profession and it’s my job to find out what his supporters and colleagues in the Conservative party are thinking about. So here was a good chance to invite myself to a virtual party where most (I suspect) are people who either are or would like to be Harper’s real offline friend. Now, the flipside of this is that all of these people at this virtual party of Harper’s friends can also see that I, too, have listed myself as Harper’s “Friend”. So, here I am, a journalist who is paid to provide independent, non-aligned and occasionaly sceptical reports on the Prime Minister and yet, here I am, on a list of his “Friends”.”

The “friend” network of a Conservative ministerial exempt staffer may include Conservatives, high school friends, Liberals, PMO staff and Mark Holland (just for kicks — and to spy on him too to see if he is as ill-timed with the keyboard as he is with what he says in public — he is). And therein lies the biggest problem for a professional network that trades on gossip, leaks and juicy details: while you’re checking them out, you’re open to the same. “Bozo eruptions” are not limited to a backbench MP freelancing opinion about social issues to a small- town newspaper reporter; Facebook, in its ease of use, and its socially reciprocating nature, lowers the threshold of access to and ramps up the rapid dissemination of the information about anyone that is about to ruin their political career.

Of course, staff will be upset by the move as Facebook is easily one of the day’s best diversions as it brings procrastination, web surfing and socializing together in a truly amusing way. However, the decision is a wise one for a team that must deal in this political reality.

The Liberals, predictably, will not follow suit in order to contrast their “openness” and “transparency” to Canadians. In fact, Stephane Dion has been an active participant of the social networking site (“Hello Facebook”). The contrarian move, of course, will be to their folly for the reasons that I outline above. But now, it is the potentially embarrassing Liberal information that is now available while Conservative information has been removed.

It should also be noted that this ban is different from that brought down by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. This ban by the Conservatives only applies to ministerial exempt staff. Facebook will still be accessible on their computers, but they are advised not to participate. McGuinty effectively had the Facebook site made inaccessible from Queen’s Park computers for all staff, regardless of their political stripe (or lack thereof). The aim of McGuinty’s ban is to cut down on procrastination while the Conservative ban is to patch up leaks before they occur.