More Facebook friends may mean more instability for African leaders, data shows

By Kase Wickman
Saturday, March 26, 2011 11:24 EDT
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Africa-focused blogger Ethan Zuckerman has analyzed some data that Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan may want to take a look at.

Zuckerman stumbled upon some Africa-related datasets, the most interesting of which lists the number of Facebook friends that various African leaders have. Goodluck Jonathan is the most popular, boasting 341,759 friends on the social networking site as of December 2010, when the data was collected (as of today, he has 517,914 fans), but his peers on the top-10 list are the likes of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In other words, according to Zuckerman, it looks like more Facebook friends can lead to more instability.

Zuckerman writes:

In that top ten, we’ve got two leaders who’ve been forced out of power (Ben Ali, Mubarak), one struggling to retain power after losing an election (Gbagbo), one facing protests like the ones that toppled his neighbor (Bouteflika) and one in danger of arrest from opponents within his coalition government (Tsvangirai.) In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between Facebook friends and staying power of a regime.

Note that this is not a scientific study, just an interesting observation that may turn out to be a correlation. Here’s the list of the top 10 African leaders in terms of Facebook friends:

341,759 Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
232,424 Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia
61,510 Mwai Kibaki, Kenya
59,744 King Mohamed VI, Morocco
57,072 Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe (Prime Minister to Robert Mugabe)
21,306 Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania
15,723 Hosni Mubarak, Egypt
15,377 Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast
14,714 Jacob Zuma, South Africa
12,658 Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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