Social networking in the Philippines

Social networking in the Philippines

Social networking is one of the most active web-based activities in the Philippines, with Filipinos being declared as the most active users on a number of web-based social network sites such as Friendster and Multiply. Social networking has become part of Filipinos' cyberculture.


Friendster is one of the first social networking websites in the World Wide Web when it was introduced in 2003. However, its popularity in the United States plummeted quickly in 2004 due to massive technical problems and server delays.cite news| first=Gary| last=Rivlin| title=Wallflower at the Web Party| url=| publisher=New York Times| date=October 15, 2006| accessdate=2008-06-24] But as it was losing its American audience, Friendster slowly gained users from Southeast Asia starting in the Philippines. Friendster director of engineering Chris Lunt wondered why its web traffic was spiking in the middle of the night, and noticed that the traffic was coming from the Philippines. He then traced the trail to a Filipino-American marketing consultant and hypnotist named Carmen Leilani de Jesus as the first user to have introduced Friendster to the Philippines, where a number of her friends live.


A study released by Universal McCann entitled "Power To The People - Wave3" declared the Philippines as "the social networking capital of the world," with 83 percent of Filipinos surveyed are members of a social network. They are also regarded as the top photo uploaders and web video viewers, while they are second when it comes to the number of blog readers and video uploaders.cite web |url=| title=Power To The People: Social Media Tracker, Wave3| accessdate=2008-06-22| date=March 2008| publisher=Universal McCann] cite news| first=Jerry| last=Liao| title=The Philippines - Social Networking Capital of the World| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=May 20, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-23]

With over 7.9 million Filipinos using the Internet, 6.9 million of them visit a social networking site at least once a month.cite news| first=Giovanni Paolo| last=Yazon | title=Social networking to the higher level| url=| publisher=Manila Standard Today| date=March 31, 2007| accessdate=2008-06-23] Friendster is the most visited website in the Philippines, as well as in Indonesia, according to web tracking site Alexa.cite news| first=Woo Liu| last=Ling| title=Friendster Moves to Asia| url=,8599,1707760,00.html|| date=January 29, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-23] David Jones, vice president for global marketing of Friendster, said that "the biggest percentage of (their site's) users is from the Philippines, clocking in with 39 percent of the site's traffic." He further added that in March 2008 alone, Friendster recorded 39 million unique visitors, with 13.2 million of whom were from the Philippines.cite news| first=Tessa| last=Salazar| title=Filipinos are prolific, go and Multiply| url=| publisher=Philippine Daily Inquirer| pages=A1, A10| date=June 22, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-23] Meanwhile, Multiply president and founder Peter Pezaris said that the Filipino users of their site comprised the largest and most active group in terms of number of subscribers and of photographs being uploaded daily. About 2.2 million out of more than nine million registered users of Multiply are Filipinos, outnumbering even nationalities with a bigger population base like the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil. Also, one million photographs are uploaded by Filipinos to Multiply every day, which is half of their total number worldwide.

Sixty percent of Filipino users of Multiply are female, while 70 percent are under the age of 25. In comparison, Filipino Friendster users are between the ages 16 to 30, with 55 percent of them female.

Expansions in the Philippine market

With the popularity of social networking in the Philippines, Friendster and Multiply thought of ways to capitalize the local market. The former concluded that online advertising would not work in a country with limited Internet access, and instead focused on the developing services based on mobile phones which is much more widespread, starting with providing free phone calls between members as well as a mobile phone text messaging service to its Filipino users.cite news| first=Edison D| last=Ong| title=Internet's hot sites Friendster, e-Bay test market in Philippines| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=November 28, 2004| accessdate=2008-06-23] It also experimented on online classifieds with Pusit.cite news| first=Joanna| last=Glasner| title=We're a Hit in Manila! Now What?| url=|| date=March 31, 2005| accessdate=2008-06-23] Meanwhile, Multiply launched its Philippine version. Multiply Philippines is developed in partnership with ABS-CBN Interactive to grow its user base in the country, as well as tapping into its local advertising and mobile services.cite news| first=David| last=Dizon| title=Filipinos are top Multiply users| url=|| date=June 19, 2005| accessdate=2008-06-23]

Application in Filipino culture and society

The popularity of social networking in the Philippines can be traced in the Filipinos' culture of "friends helping friends." For Filipinos, their friends and who they know can become more valuable than money, especially when what they need can be achieved through nepotism, favoritism, friendship among others.cite web |url=| title=Orkut, Friendster Get Second Chance Overseas| accessdate=2008-06-22| date=June 15, 2007|]

Social networking has extensive uses in the Philippines. It was used to promote television programs like with its two profiles on Multiply. A call center company posted job openings on its Multiply community site and was able to attract recruits. The power of social networking was tested in the country's 2007 general elections when senatorial candidate Francis Escudero created his own Friendster profile to bolster support from Filipino users.cite news| title=Chiz Escudero campaigns in cyberspace| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=February 26, 2007| accessdate=2008-06-24] He eventually won a seat in the Senate. Local celebrities and politicians have since created their own profiles on Friendster as their medium to communicate with their fans and constituents.cite news| first=Manny B.| last=Marinay| title=Stars use Friendster's Fan Profiles to reach out to fans| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=January 31, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-24]

Friendster was also used as a tool for police investigations. Local police in Cebu City where able to track down the suspects for the robbery and murder of a female nursing student on March 2008. After receiving information and tips from the public and other police operatives, the local police searched through the suspects' profiles in order to get a closer look at their faces. The police printed the pictures of the suspects and launched a series of police operations, which led to their arrest.cite news| first=Mars Jr. W| last=Mosqueda| title=Internet used to identify killers of nursing student| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=March 11, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-24] Meanwhile, Manila Police District arrested a suspect for the murder of two guest relations officers in Tondo on January 2007 after they were able to find the suspect's whereabouts through his Friendster profile.cite news| first=Natalie Jane M| last=Malayo| title=Suspect in killing of two GROs arrested| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=January 16, 2007| accessdate=2008-06-24]

Social networks also became a source of high-profile cyberwars, notably between actors Ynez Veneracion and Mon Confiado against Juliana Palermo. The two accused Palermo of creating a fake Friendster profile of her ex-boyfriend Confiado, which is uploaded with photos of Confiado and his girlfriend Veneracion but laden with profanities in each caption.cite news| first=Walden| last=Sadiri| title=Ynez-Juliana feud turns Friendster to "Hatester?"| url=| publisher=Manila Bulletin| date=June 3, 2007| accessdate=2008-06-24]


Filipino-American Internet personality Christine Gambito, also known as HappySlip, criticized Friendster for displaying what she described as "inappropriate advertisements" that appear on her profile and posted a message on the site's bulletin board addressing her fans that she contemplated on deleting her account. Gambito had earlier deleted her MySpace account because she objected to the Google-powered online advertisements that she said "were in direct conflict with the HappySlip brand and especially misrepresentative of Filipino women." She particularly criticized the posting of advertisements of international dating websites that supposedly target Filipinas.cite news| first=Erwin| last=Oliva| title=Happy Slip unhappy with "inappropriate" ads on Friendster| url=| publisher=Philippine Daily Inquirer| date=June 13, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-24]

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to find out who created a fake account on Friendster using his identity. The profile was laden with false information about him, saying that he "wants to meet traitors, corrupts, criminals so he could crush them."cite news| first=Thea| last=Alberto| title=Razon not amused by "Friendster account"| url=| publisher=Philippine Daily Inquirer| date=January 17, 2008| accessdate=2008-06-24]


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