The Rise of the Facebook Empire

The "World Map of Social Networks" has long made a game of Risk from the global competition between Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and other social networks. Facebook is, at last, sweeping the board. Just check out the latest map.

Compared with its 2007 predecessor, the freshly released map of social networks looks more like a portrait of international domination than a window into a hotly contested global battle. Just look at the spread of Facebook's blue territory! Western Europe, once entirely up for grabs, has been steamrolled by Mark Zuckerberg's robot armies. The Facebook emperor is also making impressive headway into South America and Africa, where his network was once a non entity.

The once mighty imperial powers of MySpace, Friendster and LiveJournal — stop your snickering — have been entirely vanquished. Just four years agos, these guys — and even Bebo! — looked fearsome. "A dominant local site such as Orkut in Brazil," we wrote in 2007, "can hold off the competition because it's the default, and nobody wants to migrate to another site, however much more advanced, if their friends won't follow." Well, Orkut's lost India, and Brazil is Facebook's fastest growing market. All that's left, really, are China and Russia, two notoriously hard places to do business that seem destined to be dominated by local insurgents. It's probably time for Facebook to shift to a containment strategy.