Social media in South America: Orkut & Brazil
To start my participation here in DMLcentral, I want to write about social media outside the U.S., specifically in South America. Let’s take the case of Orkut in Brazil, an interesting and relatively-unknown subject that I’ve researched and followed closely for years. Orkut is very much a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. Although Brazilians had experience with other social networking sites (Fotolog, for example, was very popular among young Brazilians in 2003 and 2004, before Orkut appeared), Orkut caused a revolution in Internet access in Brazil. As Orkut grew quickly in Brazil starting in 2004, it became synonymous with the Internet. Being on the Internet meant being on Orkut. The question of course is, why?
According to data recently released by Ibope/NetRatings (all links in Portuguese), 73% of all Brazilian Internet users are also Orkut users. Orkut is also rated as the third most accessed Internet domain in Brazil. Because of numbers like these, some researchers even argue that Orkut played a fundamental role in popularizing the Internet in Brazil. Many people in Brazil have learned how to use the Internet out of a desire to access Orkut and, among youth, it is commonly said that, “If you are not in Orkut, you don’t exist.”
What is it about Orkut that has attracted so many young Brazilians? How do Brazilians use Orkut? What are the implications of this growth? In my first series of posts, I’ll explore the Orkut phenomena in Brazil, including some of the explanations for, and the implications of, Orkut’s growth. First, Orkut’s appropriations and effects.