For the past seven years or so, the Philippines has been touted as the “Social (Media) Nation of the world”. This is reminiscent of the time when the Philippines was being hailed as the “texting capital of the world”, even before the turn of the millennium.
But at first glance at the statistics, it doesn’t seem so. The country is not even near the Top 20 of the highest Internet Penetration or Adoption Rate.
As of June 2022, the Philippine penetration or adoption rate is pegged at 68%. This means that 32% of the Philippine population do not have ACCESS to the Internet. That is quite a big proportion. So how can it be the “Social (Media) Nation of the World”?
In comparison, the top 10 countries with the highest Internet Adoption rates all have 99% penetration rates.
Going to the Internet needs equipment – internet-capable cellphones at the very least. Other gadgets would include laptops, desktops, wifi modems and broadband susbscription. While touch screen cellphones are getting cheaper by the year, there are stll so many who use feature phones, known locally as “keypad”phones.
As everyone knows, the country is not rich – in terms of Gross Domestic Product. And with 111 million people, the GDP per capita is quite low. The Philippines has US$ 8,390 GDP per capita. Compare that to its neighbors Hong Kong with US$59,238 or Singapore with US$98,526.00 So how can the Philippines be the “Social (Media) Nation of the World”?
Aside from the poor financial capabilities of the average Filipino, s/he is faced with quite expensive Internet rate at very slow speeds. The situation in the Philippines is certainly not conducive to spending time in the Internet. The average broadband price is more than $39. This is higher than prices in Macau, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Thailand, Korea, Turkey, and India, etc. And these states are much richer than the Philippines.
The Philippines has an average internet speed at $39 is 23.74 Mbps for broadband.
(I am using figures from the Digital 2022 Overview Global Report by We Are Social and Hootsuite. Other sources give a much lower average speed – around 8 Mbbps. But the speed is also is a function of price. Those who can afford, can get very high speeds.)
This is so much slower than those in countries that have cheaper rates like Macau (151.33), Malaysi (81.46), China (133.6), Japan (106.49), Taiwan (122.59), Israel (99.71), Thailand (171.36), Korea (158.78) and Vietnam (54.67)
For mobile internet connection speed, the Philippines has even a slower speed. Mobile internet speed averages 18.68 mbps.
THE REASON WHY
The Philippines became the “texting capital of the world” even though there were way more people with cellphones in other countries. For most people in other countries, they use their cellphones to call and talk to others. Most Filipinos, on the other hand, patiently use texts to communiate as it is much cheaper to do so, especially before when there were no such things as “Unli Calls” or “Unli Texts”
In the same vein, most Filipinos may not have the fanciest iphones or fastest wifi, but they don’t seem to mind connecting to the Internet and staying there for hours. The free Facebook schemes for cellphones is also a major factor — It gives so many low-income Filipinos a taste of Facebook for free, even thought they could not see the photos.
Thus, when it comes to spending time in the Internet, mostly using cellphones, the Filipinos are the world’s champions. That is the reason why the Philippines is the “Social (Media) Nation of the World.
In a Jan. 28, 2021 Rappler report, Kyle Chua noted:
The Philippines tops the world again for time spent using social media this year, making it the 6th straight year it has done so. According to the report, Filipinos spend an average of 4 hours and 15 minutes each day on social media, which is 22 minutes higher than last year’s average of 3 hours and 53 minutes, and 3 minutes higher than 2019’s average of 4 hours and 12 minutes.
But South Korea surpassed the Philippines in Daily Time Spent in the Internet. South Koreans spend 10 hours and 46 minutes a day on the Internet while Filipinos spend only 10 hours and 27 minutes, according to the January 2022 report.
But while the South Koreans surpassed the Filipinos on Time Spent using the Internet, the Filipinos beat the South Koreans when it comes to spending time on Social Media. As of Jan 2021, the Filipinos spent 4 hours and 15 minutes while South Koreans spent a mere 1 hour and 8 minutes on social media
The Philippines topped the charts in Time Spent on Social Media through the years.
Moreover, the Filipinos remain on top of the heap (5 hours and 47 minutes) when it comes to spending time in the Internet on Mobiles. South Koreans spend a mere 2 hours and 46 minutes on social media on mobile Internet.
Thus the title of Social Media Nation or Social Media Capital of the World seems to be firmly in the Philippines’ hands.
SOCIAL MEDIA USES
But what do Filipinos do online? Interestingly, Filipinos top the charts in watching online video for learning, esp. now in the pandemic period, with 71% of those in the Internet watch online learning videos a week.
(Incidentally, I got course certificates in WordPress web design and Hypnotherapy from a Sussex institute this pandemic period.)
Watching Vlogs seems to be very popular among young Filipinos. This is probably because mainstream media organizations like ABSCBN support vloggers by putting them under contract and promoting them. They top the charts at 60% with Taiwan a far second at 40%.
And most middle- and upper-class Filipinos watch streaming TV, esp. Netflix. And when they Netflix, they watch for hours on end.
And what many high school and college students prefer over attending classes is — playing internet video games.
Filipinos also top the charts in following influencers in social media. More than half of the Filipino internet users follow influencers.
In sum, the Filipinos top the charts in many categories in social media. I suppose they deserve to be called the “Most Social Media Nation” or “Social Media Capital of the world.”
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Despite criticisms against it from all sides, Facebook remains the most-used social media platform in the world. In Jan. 2022, FB was used by 2.9 Billion people in the world. YouTube was used by 2.56 Billion people while Whatsapp was used by 2 Billion people.
In the Philippines, FB is used by practically all Filipinos who have access to the Internet. According to the data from most sites, there are 95.2 million FB users in the Philippines or 84% of its population.
That data could not be correct. This number is being bandied about almost everywhere in cyberspace. But this is Misinformation The number is equivalent to all Filipinos except all 4 year olds and below and less than half of the children aged 5 to 9 years old. (This means that around 5.5 million 5 to 9 year old Filipinos are FB users.) One needs to be 13 years old or older to be able to have an FB account. There are only 111 – 112 million Filipinos And surely, not everyone in the Philippines has an FB account, especially the ones in remote villages in the provinces and those who are poor and elderly.
And, as I said earlier, Philippine penetration or adoption rate is pegged at 68% only. Some go as high as 70%. Certainly not 84%. This number probably means FB accounts, including FB pages, owned by people in the Philippines. Many people have several accounts, including FB pages. The troll armies of politicians usually require each “cyber soldier” to have at least 5 FB accounts.
(I, myself, have several FB accounts and FB pages.)
Despite the inflated figures, the Philippine users of FB and its “sister app” Messenger are still so many – presumably 50 million, more or less. This is so much more than Filipino users of the other social media platforms like Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter.
USE OF INTERNET, NOT USE OF FACEBOOK
In a Dec 2019 SWS survey, 45% OF adult Filipinos use the Internet.
But in a Pulse Asia survey done in Sept. 2021, it reported that 48% of Filipinos get their political news from the Internet, 44% of them get the news from Facebook. This was quite a jump from the previous year’s survey by SWS.
So, the better number to use is about half of Filipino adults plus 10 year olds and above, which gives more or less 45 million Filipinos, who use the Internet — not the alleged 95 million Facebook users. After all, they cannot use Facebook without Internet connection!
In sum, even with 45 million Filipino internet users, the Filipinos still top the charts in many categories in social media. I suppose they deserve to be called the “Most Social Media Nation” or “Social Media Capital of the world.”
This is an “extended version” of the first part of the lecture I delivered on March 4, 2022 in the webinar titled Digital Journalism and the Mindanao Vote. Organized by Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and Journalism Studies Association of the Philippines, Inc. (JSAP, Inc.) supported by Hanns Seidel Foundation in cooperation with Internews in collaboration with USAID.
For the video version :
Go to: Is Philippines the World’s Social Media Capital ?