Facebook in South Africa

My students’ Internet skills range from those who are not quite sure what’s happening when they create a link from their blogs to another web page, to those who are looking for audio and video to add to their blogs and who have their own Facebook pages.

Almost all of the students use a mobile social networking site called Mixit. I was at a party last week where a young man didn’t know anyone there, but heard about the party through Mixit and an SMS.

I was more than a little surprised two days ago when having lunch at Skukuza Camp in the middle of Kruger National (Wildlife) Park, to overhear a group of thirty-somethings next to me talking about how Facebook has made it easier to steal theĀ identities of those people who fill out detailed profiles. They are giving a little too much information to those who want to use it for illegal purposes.

Then, when driving out of the park and listening to a South African rock station, the DJ announced that he was going to read from a Facebook page he likes. It was a list of “You know you’re South African if …”

(Even after just a few weeks here, I could understand some of the jokes, particularly those dealing with driving. Like, “You know you’re South African if you run a red robot (stoplight) and three cars follow you.” Or, “You know you’re South African if you’re driving 120 kph on the highway, and you’re the slowest one.”)

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2 Comments

Filed under Africa, Journalism, South Africa, Teaching Journalism

2 responses to “Facebook in South Africa

  1. This is really interesting Gary. I love to see how social networking is being used in different cultural contexts. Whether it be the use of MySpace in West Virginia, where I grew up, to track down old schoolmates or Orkut in India to mobilize political protests. This example from South Africa is really great. It highlights the use of SMS as a powerful convening tool. I would imagine that a tool like twitter would explode in South Africa sue to its SMS / web interface. Thanks for the post!

  2. Gary

    Good observation about Twitter. The mobile social network site Mixit is really big in South Africa.

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