Google Trend reports that the country where Google searches for the word “friendfeed” most frequently originate is Iran. Is FriendFeed very popular in Iran ? Can anyone explain that surprising piece of data ? I stumbled upon it today and it puzzled me enough to warrant some more research.

Google Trend results for “Friendfeed” today :

1. Iran
2. United States
3. India
4. Italy
5. Canada
1. English
2. Italian
3. Japanese
4. Chinese
5. French

Givent that the queries originate mostly in Iran – by a wide margin, it is strange that the most used languages for those searches is English, because Google does have its user interface translater in Persian. A similar phenomenon does not appear for Facebook : there is apparently quite a craze about Facebook in Turkey, and the most used languages in those searches is therefore Turkish.

Google Trend results for “Facebook” today :

1. Turkey
2. Colombia
3. Croatia
4. South Africa
5. United Kingdom
1. Turkish
2. Croatian
3. French
4. English
5. Finnish

As a counterpoint, searches for “Myspace” originate mostly in the USA with English as a language. That is more like what I expected before writing this article.

Google Trend results for “Myspace” today :

1. United States
2. Australia
3. United Kingdom
4. Mexico
5. Canada
1. English
2. Italian
3. French
4. Spanish
5. German

Alexa data for Myspace matches the Google Trend results pretty well.

Alexa data shows that FriendFeed traffic originating from Iran is one fourth of what originates from the USA :

United States 33.6 %
China 10.6 %
Turkey 9.1 %
Iran 7.2 %

Proportionally to population and Internet usage penetration, that is quite a large proportion of FriendFeed users in Iran.

But the Alexa data for Facebook does not match the Google Trends result : it does not even mention Turkey in the top countries of origin – the USA are first, followed by a bunch of western countries.

We could have the following conclusions :

  • Myspace is a mostly American site
  • Turkish are curious about Facebook but actually use Friendfeed
  • Iran are not only curious about Friendfeed but also use it like crazy

Is Robert Scoble secretly dealing with the Pasdaran ? Is there a character set issue that screws up the whole statistics because we are ISO-8859-1 biased ? I have no idea, but I have a feeling that I have barely scratched the surface of the issue and there are certainly plenty of unexpected findings to be discovered about who is using which social site.