Old colonies, current friendships

KD Suarez
Global friend connections on Facebook roughly mirror the old European empires of the past

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook isn’t only connecting you to long-lost friends and relatives – it’s also linking up people in countries tied by history.

The social networking site said Tuesday, March 20, that based on user data, global friend connections in the site roughly mirror the extent of the old European empires of the past.

“Despite long periods of independence in some instances, the social fabric of these countries frequently reveals a lasting impression of their former history,” Johan Ugander, one of the researchers who analyzed the data, said in a post.

The post highlighted connections of former colonies and territories of 5 countries: Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands.

The study, which was explained in a previous post on the site, tried to analyze the strength of ties of people around the world, and the connections between old territories emerged as part of the analysis.

The Economist, with whom Facebook shared the data, showed maps that showed the correlation of the number of friend connections between 2 countries to their history.

At least 214 countries were ranked for their connections to the said former imperial powers, and were color-coded on a map: the darker the shade of blue, the stronger the connection to the country in question.

For Great Britain, strong connections exist with Australia, New Zealand, and many former colonies in Africa. France, meanwhile, has strong connections with Francophone Africa, which includes numerous states in the western part of the continent.

Portugal, meanwhile, has very strong connections with Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau, all former territories.

Countries with early trade and colonial relations with the Netherlands, such as Suriname and Ghana, have strong connections with the said country.

Connections to the Netherlands. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Spain, which boasted once that the “sun never set” in its expansive colonial holdings, showed extensive connections to Latin America and its former African colonies.

One notable thing though: The Philippines, which was under Spanish rule for more than 3 centuries, had a lighter shade of blue compared to its fellow ex-colonies, denoting fewer connections between the two countries.

“We see from these maps that human relationships form a complex, global tapestry that is patterned by intricate historical ties,” Ugander said.

“Ties between countries often run deep, with early imprints such as language likely laying the foundation for modern international business and tourism,” he added. – Rappler.com

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