Malaysia Surges as Facebook Grew by 6 Million Users in Asia in March

The big Pacific Rim countries once again led the greater Asian region in monthly active user growth for the month of March. The region as a whole has grown by around 6 million people over the last month to slightly above 85 million monthly active users, according to the latest Facebook Global Monitor data from Inside Facebook Gold.

The top 10 list of fastest-growing countries, below, is little changed in its upper rankings from February’s growth figures, except that Malaysia has moved up to third on stronger growth, while India has dropped to fourth.

Indonesia, the top grower, actually leads the rankings this month for the entire world with 1,933,020 new users. But, with about 228 million people, the country has plenty of room to grow; the gains in the Philippines and Malaysia, which are both significantly smaller, seem relatively more impressive. Note that Malaysia has also topped 20 percent penetration, a relatively high rate, and a point where some countries start slowing down.

With its Friendster-inspired legacy of social networking, it’s not hard to see why the Pacific Rim is growing — as well as East Asia in general, which is following Taiwan’s lead onto Facebook. But India’s growth rate has inexplicably slowed after showing promising signs over the past few months.

At just 0.7 percent penetration, it doesn’t seem at all certain that India will become an important country for the social network anytime soon. Alternately, Facebook, which just opened an office in Hyderabad, could become more aggressive about spreading itself in India, to the detriment of Google’s Orkut.

India’s neighbor Pakistan also registered slower growth in March, while Vietnam and Japan, both low-penetration countries, made slightly better showings than in the past. We should also note that while Facebook is not entirely blocked in Vietnam, numerous reports suggest that government censorship is interfering with user access to it in the country:

Taking the Asian region as a whole, the growth rate has fallen each month this year; the region grew about 7.5 percent in March. That leaves it with an audience of 85,342,280 people on Facebook, about 2.3 percent of its 3.75 billion citizens — although it should be noted that Facebook’s advertising tool, from which this info is sourced, usually runs a few weeks behind. You can find more detailed growth stats and forward projections for the next year on 96 countries in the full Facebook Global Monitor report, available through Inside Facebook Gold at gold.insidenetwork.com/facebook.

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