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Friday, October 19th, 2007

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Remember Orkut?
With all the talk about Facebook lately, I'd almost completely forgotten about Orkut, Google's social networking site. I'd heard that it was more popular outside the United States, but I didn't really know how popular.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal (Google Under Fire Over a Controversial Site), Orkut is the 5th most popular site globally, and was only slightly behind Google and Facebook last month in page views. And apparently, over half of Orkut's visitors are from Brazil!

That has apparently been a bit of a problem, because the site has been plagued by user and groups that promote racism, pedophilia, and cruelty to animals. Google removes illegal content, but that becomes tricky since racist speech, for example, is protected under U.S. law (where the servers are located) but not in Brazil. And user privacy is protected (to a certain extent) in the U.S., but Brazil has different expectations. It makes it hard to "do no evil" when there are so many definitions of evil around the world. It seems unlikely that Google would consider handing over any user data to Brazil's government, but the article points out that, in Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is illegal—what if the government there demanded user records for those "criminals"?

That interesting bit about the difficulties of global business are just a footnote in my mind, though. I'm just entirely shocked that Orkut is not only doing well, but is insanely popular.

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