Facebook Use in Developing Regions*

How is Facebook used in urban and rural Kenya?

Access to Facebook and use of Facebook is limited, including:

  • limited access to computers and smartphones
  • unreliable electricity

To overcome costs, participants go to Facebook to try to generate income by:

  • looking for employment
  • marketing themselves
  • and seeking money from friends and family abroad

 Data

  • Interviews with 28 young adults living in an informal settlement, or slum, in Nairobi, Kenya
  • 24 interviews at Internet cafés in rural Kenya

Limitations

Both studies were ethnographic in nature and studied a small sample of users. Findings are representative of trends and patterns of behavior associated with a particular set of participants and experiences. The complexities surrounding race, gender, colonialism, and constraints including financial, technical, and infrastructural ones cannot be fully represented in an exploratory study.

*This research was led by Dr. Susan Wyche at Michigan State University. The bulk of the credit for this work belongs to her. 

For more details, please read this paper <a title=”Hustling Online: Understanding Consolidated Facebook Use in an Informal Settlement in Nairobi” href=”http://yardi.people.si.umich.edu/pubs/Yardi_HustlingOnline13.pdf”>full paper</a> and <a title=”Facebook is a Luxury”: An Exploratory Study of Social Media Use in Rural Kenya” href=”http://yardi.people.si.umich.edu/pubs/Yardi_FacebookLuxury13.pdf”>this paper</a>

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