The Rise of Social Media : A New Frontier of Diplomacy #2


A.   The Magic of Internet with its Phenomenal Facebook and Twitter
Perhaps, for many of us, watching a real-time show or event happens in one place while being separately thousands of miles away, was nothing out of ordinary. Thanks to the Internet, or some might generally refer as information and communication technology (ICT), one-third of the world’s populations is now able to enjoy this privilege.

Since being introduced in, arguably, 1974,[1] the internet has brought many significant changes to the world. Those changes, both positive and negative, range from simple connections with family and friends to revolutionary movements that change the life of nations, from online shopping to cybercrime. The rapid development of ICT has enabled people to better connect and communicate with one another, regardless of time difference and geographical locations. Information is abundant and easy to access, providing more exposure on myriads of issues around the globe for everyone. Indeed, various developments in political, economic, social and cultural areas have taken place with the help of Internet

Until June 2012, approximately 2.4 billion people around the globe are registered as internet active users, posing Asia on top of the list based on the distribution of the world regions with 44.8% coverage.[2] Compared to 10 years ago, internet users continue to enjoy exponential growth in terms of numbers, especially since internet mobile services conquer the market.

Indonesia, on its part, is certainly part of the top 20 countries with the highest number of internet users. As Internet initially introduced in the 1990s in Indonesia,[1] this country is now positioned at number 8, contributing 2.3% of the total world’s internet population amounting 55.000.000 people. From the same list, the only ASEAN member country which makes the top 20 is the Philippines, with approximately 33.6 million people using internet actively.[2]

Another crucial development here is the robust usage of mobile social media, which refer to the same social media applications traditionally running on computers or laptops, but used on mobile devices. Along with almost 6 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions and 1.2 billion active mobile-broadband subscriptions,[3] the use of mobile social media is exponentially increasing.[4]

Amidst the continuously evolving ICT, one of the highlights of this cutting-edge technology is the development of social media. Being recognized as ubiquitous software connecting social actors to interact in public spheres, social media outlets have been the darlings of information and communication technology thus far. Also commonly known as social network sites or technologies, social media can also be described as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.”[5] Two phenomenally popular social media outlets examples here are Facebook and  Twitter.

As registered Facebook members, users can create profile page and share information with unlimited number of other users or virtual ‘friends’. Although ‘friends’ are usually those known by the users in real life and thus invited and/or added to the friends’ list, some users choose to approve without having the ‘real’ connections in order to expand their circles of friends. Another choice of expanding the network in this site is by creating pages which can catch the attention of unlimited ‘fans’, users who are interested to the content but not necessarily have to be friends or approve friends’ invitations. Privacy settings are also available, putting the control in the hands of its users.[6] Users are able to create a specific page and now, Facebook has ‘sponsor’ service where users can sponsor or advertise particular event or product with as cheap as 50 cent USD per item.

Until recently, the United States is still the home of most active Facebook users, with close to 156 million active users, or approximately 65% of Facebook’s entire global audience. Brazil is now Facebook Nation No.2, while India rank at number 3.[7]

Indonesia is undoubtedly experiencing social media ‘booming’ since the advance development of ICT has enabled wider constituents to have access to the internet. Coupled with the overall progress in economy, more Indonesians now have computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones and similar devices, with internet connection.No wonder Indonesia now ranks number four as the world most active Facebook, listing 49,884,160 users.[8]
At this juncture, Facebook, which is available in 70 languages, has reached 1 billion active users by September 14, 2012[9].

Twitter, on the other hand, is a micro-blogging site which allows users to post comments, status, information and any text-based content not more than 140 characters, or widely known as “tweet”. Surprisingly, a wide variety of information has been broadcasted through Twitter, which also include links to articles, photos, pictures, videos and audio streams.Tweets are immediately visible to “followers”, those who have registered and requested to follow certain user(s). Unlike Facebook and its circles of “friends”, Twitter users can follow any other user and most tweets are available for public. Of course, all users have the choices to unfollow or block other users from getting access to the feed, giving them the power to control their audiences.

Other interesting features in Twitter are the “retweet” and “quote tweet” functions, permitting users to easily and expeditiously distribute any information to the world-wide audience. “Hashtags”, another unique facet of Twitter, allow users to search for trending topics as tweets are organized on certain topic.[10] For example, #Indonesia will make people find tweets on that topic easily.

Until recently, from the top 10 countries with the most Twitter accounts list, United States stays at number 1, with recorded 141.8 million accounts. Brazil follows on the second spot, with 41.2 million accounts, and Japan at number three with 35 million accounts.32.2 million accounts, while Indonesia stays at number 5 with 29.4 million accounts.[11] In terms of active Twitter users, surprisingly, China champions the list with approximately 33.5 million active users, despite the fact that the Chinese Government blocks this service.[12]

Indonesia ranks number five in the world, contributing 15% of the overall tweets. It was estimated that 3.8 million Indonesians, particularly Jakartans, are actively tweeting and posting approximately 53.880 tweets per hour. Unsurprisingly, Jakarta is the most active city where tweets were posted, surpassing Tokyo, London, Sao Paolo and even New York, respectively. Meanwhile, Bandung stays at number six on the list.[13]

As noticeably showcased in the Arab Spring phenomenon where the term “Twitter Revolution” was ubiquitously coined, this site is now deemed as one of the extremely influential sources of real-time news.[14]

[1] David T. Hill and KhrisnaSen, “The Internet in Indonesia’s New Democracy”, Democratization Vol 7 (1), 2000, pp. 119 – 136,(Accessed 18 October 2102)  in
[2]The top 10 countries in the list of top 20 countries comprises China at number 1, with approximately 538,000,000 users ; 2. United States with 245,203,319 users ; 3. India, with 137,000,000 users; 4. Japan, with 101,228,736 users ; 5. Brazil, with 87,276,099 users ; 6. Russia, with 67,982,547 users ; 7. Germany, with 67,483,860 users; 8.Indonesia, with 55,000,000 users; 9.United  Kingdom with 52,731,209 users ; and 10. France, with 52,228,905 users . (Accessed 28 October 2012) In
[3] From the World in 2011 – ICT Facts and Figures (International Telecommunication Union, 2011), it is estimated that out of 7 billion global population, one-third is online already. Developing countries, led by China and India, are now contributing approximately 62% of the world’s total number of internet users. Mobile-cellular subscriptions also enjoy a stable increase where in 2011, 5.9 billion people have subscribed to mobile-cellular accounts. Meanwhile, mobile-broadband subscriptions have grown 45%  annually in the course of recent four years. In 2011, active mobile-broadband subscriptions have reached almost 1.2 billion, which is twice as many as fixed-broadband subscriptions which cover 600 million households worldwide.
[4]International Telecommunication Union, ibid.
[5]Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Elisson, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication Vol. 13(2008) pp. 210 – 230, (Accessed 5 October 2012) in boyd.ellison.html.

[6] Sarah Joseph, “Social Media, Political Change, and Human Rights,”35 B.C. Int”l& Comp. L. Rev. 145 (2012), in http//
[7] According to, as of June 2012, real-time rankings for countries with the most active Facebook are as follows: 1. United States, with 168,642,820 users;2.Brazil, with 61,813,580 users; 3. India, with 60,600,520 users; 4. Indonesia, with 49,844,160 users; 5.Mexico, with 39,583,000 users;6.United Kingdom, with 33,785, 600 users; 7. Turkey, with 31,822,360 users;8.Philippines, with 29,877,060 users; 9.France, with 25,286,560 users; and 10.Germany, with 25,189,320 users.
[9] “Facebook Tops Billion-User Mark”, the Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones), (Accessed October 4  2012), in SB10000872396390443635404578036164027386112.html
[10]Sarah Joseph, Ibid.

[11]Twitter reaches half a billion accounts, More than 140 millions in the U.S., (Accessed November 2, 2012),in

[13]Shea Bennet, ibid.
[14] Blake Hounshell, The Revolution Will be Tweeted, Foreign Policy, July 2011, at 20, (Accessed 20 October 2012), in

[1] Many sources have provided different timeline when it comes to the history of internet. One argued that the internet was firstly developed in 1957, while others offer that the internet was firstly used in public in 1974.
“When was the internet invented?” (Accessed on 28 October 2012) when-was-the-internet-invented/.
[2] The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as cited by Internet World Statistics ( noted that, until June 2012, there are 2.405.518.376 internet active users around the world. Based on the region, Asia is dominantly the home of most internet users, covering 44.8 % of the total registered users. Europe comes on the second place with 21.5%, while North America stays at number 3 with 11.4%. Latin America ranks number four with 10.4% contribution, followed by Africa (7%), Middle East (3.7) and Oceania/Australia (1%).

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