The Rise of the Global South on the World Wide Web: Bridging Internet Policies and Web User Behavior

Scholars of Internet governance have traditionally focused on how institutions such as sovereign nation states and multilateral organizations establish public policy. In doing so, experts and policy makers often presume the impact of Internet policies on Internet usage, but rarely do they examine usage aggregated from the behavior of individual web users.

In this study, authors Harsh Taneja and Angela Xiao Wu examine the relationship between internet governance and internet user behavior, empirically investigating web user behavior on a global scale.  The authors utilize web use data from ComScore to construct a network for the 1,000 most visited websites globally in September 2009, 2011 and 2013. Analysis of these networks revealed a number of “clusters” of websites, whereby sites within the cluster had more users in common than they did with sites outside the cluster. In each of the three years, the most salient means upon which websites clustered together were both language and geography (and not content type).  Thus, the authors interpret such clusters as online expressions of place-based cultures, or “regional cultures”, with data suggesting a de-Americanization and rise of the Global South on the WWW since 2009.



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