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In Emerging Markets, Facebook Is for Lovers


As Valentine's Day approaches, a new report reveals online dating habits around the world.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is leading the charge in emerging markets as a place for young people to seek out romantic partners.

The online dating industry is estimated to be worth up to $2 billion worldwide, with over 40 million people in the US belonging to dating websites like eHarmony and (NASDAQ: IACI). But in emerging nations, lovers-to-be between the ages of 18 and 30 are overwhelmingly turning to Facebook to find their future partners.

Social marketing and global research firm Jana found out this much in a recent poll conducted in nine nations: Brazil, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, and Vietnam. Beyond Facebook, the study found that Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and MySpace are also popular choices for young people seeking romance online. Traditional online dating services, including large sites like and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), do operate in these marketplaces, as do local services like India's Shaadi and the Philippines Peekawoo. But interestingly, the study found that respondents perceive these specialized online dating services as untrustworthy, thus their popularity is hindered.
In related news, a recent report from Pew Research found that some emerging and developing nations are outpacing the US in social media usage. In 20 countries, including Tunisia, Venezuela, Kenya, Brazil, and Indonesia, researchers found that although there are fewer adults using the Internet compared to the US, those who go online are enthusiastic social media users. In the US, 73% of Internet users engage with social media sites. In the developing countries surveyed, seven in 10 or more Internet users participated in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, with rates as high as 88% in Egypt, and 86% in the Philippines and in Russia.

China was the only emerging country polled where less than a majority of Internet users participate in social networking websites.

Follow me on Twitter: @brokawbrokaw

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