A website-visualization firm Webempire has created this map showing the number one websites around the world, as calculated by traffic-tracking company Alexa. As the picture makes clear, Google dominates, with Facebook trailing not too far behind.
But a quick dive into Alexa’s statistics shows less of a divide: By a long shot, most of the countries where Google is number one, Facebook is number two, and vice versa, although YouTube, a Google property, makes a pretty good showing too (number two in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Armenia, for examples). When it comes to the very top of the traffic picture, there is not a whole lot of variation globally. What stands out more than the Facebook/Google line are the true outliers — particularly China with its heavy government regulation, whose list of top websites bares the least resemblance to rest of the globe, with the top four slots all belonging to China-specific sites (Baidu.com, QQ.com, Taobao.com, and sina.com.cn).
Of course, saying that Google and Facebook dominate around the world is a lot like saying trees and grasses are the dominant plant. Google is a search portal; where it brings you depends on what you put in. Facebook’s content is the work of your friends and family, the very opposite of a monolith that would look the same regardless who logged in. And that’s what’s most interesting about the map above: The homogeneity masks the diversity; the top websites are the places we make our own.