This mashup of the maps of the Facebook digital connections and the NASA's World at night is very interesting - and it would be even more if it was possible to draw general conclusions. Unfortunately, it is not, with one very clear exception.
First, since China is quickly becoming the #1 internet market in the world, our eyes would immediately look at it on the map, and the image could make us think that Facebook has no traffic there (note that the maps below show the international traffic to Facebook by the end of 2010). That conclusion would be erroneous, based on the fact that although Facebook (and Twitter) are blocked in China, millions of Chinese users access the social network by using anonymous IP servers, as is also the case of users in other countries, like Iran, where Facebook is banned by their government.
The noteworthy exception would be Brazil, at least by the time the map was drawn, at the end of 2010. At that moment, Facebook had not yet exploded in the biggest South American country, and Orkut, Google's social network in eternal beta, was still the preferred way Brazilians had to share photos and news, and poke their friends.
Looking at the list below displaying the top 10 international Facebook audience markets and their 12-month growth rate, we could say that Brazil is not the exception anymore, and it would appear as a pitch-black area if the map was redrawn today:
(millions of users)
|12-Month Audience Growth|
Visual arts graduate student Ian Wojtowicz mashed the Facebook connections map, which shows digital Facebook friendships around the world by connecting locations with arcs, with NASA's well-known map showing Earth at night. The maps below are what you get (for the World and South America).