[Editor’s Note: The data cited in this article is excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service tracking Facebook’s business and growth around the world. Please see Inside Facebook Gold to learn more about our complete data and analysis offering.]
Gender inequality in Facebook’s Islamic markets is expressing itself in the social network’s demographic makeup too. The Group of 20 nations, which includes 19 of the world’s biggest developed and emerging markets along with the European Union, have a virtually even gender breakdown between men and women.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s biggest Islamic countries sometimes have two male users for every female.
Countries that lack a state religion like Lebanon, tend to have more even gender make-up, while Islamic states like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have the most unequal gender divides.
Asian Islamic countries are also more balanced than Middle Eastern ones. The numbers suggest an environment in which women have much more restricted access to the web and to the education and literacy skills needed to participate in online communities.
There are also extreme cases like Afghanistan, a relatively new market to Facebook, where men outnumber women by more than 6 to 1. Iraq mirrors this phenomenon with nearly 3 men for every woman. But these are outlier cases that could be skewed by the presence of American military personnel.
As Facebook seeks its next 500 million users, it’s turning to the developing world and Muslim majority countries are coming to play a significant role in this growth. Indonesia and Turkey are the social network’s third and fourth biggest markets and Indonesia is expected to overtake the United Kingdom for second place sometime in the next year.
That said, there are also large Muslim markets where the social network is blocked including Iran, Syria and on occasion, Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to the OpenNet Initiative, a project tracking Internet censorship from four universities including Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford. Facebook is also confronting a possible ban in Turkey, where the country’s transportation minister Binali Yıldırım, suggested last week that the social network could follow YouTube onto the country’s banned sites list.
Additional demographic data on the countries mentioned in this article, as well as audience growth data for over 160 Facebook country markets around the world, are available at Inside Facebook Gold.