Cambodians and Facebook, a Love Story

Posted January 6th, 2011 at 3:04 pm (UTC+7)
10 comments

Bun Tharum, Phnom Penh

This week Facebook announced $500 million in investment from Goldman Sachs. This put the value of Facebook at $50 billion, affirming its popularity among many Internet users around the world.

Cambodia is no different, and in the past six months, the number of Facebook users here has skyrocketed.

Cambodians use Facebook to “seek fun, socialize and maintain friendship,” according to data from an online survey by Royal University of Phnom Penh. We now have made Facebook the most visited social networking site in the country.

Leang Chumsoben, a government official in Kampong Chhnang’s provincial administration, has been on Facebook since 2008, using it as a way to stay connected with his sister, a university student in Phnom Penh.

“We can express feelings more openly than before,” he told me in an e-mail. He had recently shared a news article with his 600 Facebook friends reporting on a local newspaper, a new song about “Or Phnom Penh Euy” currently banned by the Ministry of Information.

Leang Chumsoben is far from alone in his Facebooking.

While SocialBakers, a website that provides Facebook statistics, shows that Cambodia users have doubled from 85,000 to 198840 in the last six months, RUPP’s Cambodian Communication Review 2010 says that the number “will be on constant rise along with the growing number of the country’s Internet users as well as the increasingly integrated functions of the Internet – entertainment, information seeking and socializing – among young users”.

In an online survey of 468 Cambodian Facebook users, CCR found that the site “has increasingly become integrated into Cambodian Internet users’ daily experience.” “More than half of the users surveyed used the site at least once a day and another one-third used it several times a week,” the review found.

Cambodian Communication Review 2010

For organizations, groups and individuals, the site has been used to exchange ideas and mobilize supporters in a number of ways, from branding and businesses to celebrity and politics.

A prominent parliamentarian for the Sam Rainsy Party, Mu Sochua, maintains a Facebook page, where she has 1,450 “friends.” The 56-year-old lawmaker uses the site to spread messages among her supporters more quickly than word of mouth. Four days after the bridge tragedy at Diamond Island in November, 2010, she used Facebook to promote her own blog post “A Nation in Grief – A Nation Transformed.”

“When I was facing the courts in Cambodia, it was the most efficient means and costing
nothing to put out the appeal and the response has been very rewarding,” Mu Sochua responded to my email interview, suggesting that Facebook “is a very powerful political tool when
one has to mobilize thousands or millions to join a cause. Young people contribute to politics in so many different ways and facebook and other forms of social media is changing politics.”

Cambodia Facebook statistics from SocialBakers

The CCR predicts the number “will be on a constant rise along with the growing number of the country’s Internet users as well as the increasingly integrated functions of the Internet – entertainment, information seeking and socializing – among young users.”

Interestingly, SocialBakers statistics and the CCR found that more men embrace Facebook than women. Of the total of Cambodian Facebook users, SocialBakers counts 61 percent as male. The CCR counts 72 percent male in its survey.

Still, nearly a thousand people are members of Cambodia Women in Business, a Facebook page that shares experiences of entrepreneurs and other business professionals here. Administrators for the site, which was set up by the World Bank’s private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, say it “will be a good platform to network, support each other’s activity, but also to celebrate our success.”

The page is frequently updated with relevant news and information, with links to magazines articles like one recently in the Harvard Business Review. That article argued that women represent a larger market than “China and India combined.” To which a member commented: “I don’t think women are poorly served within that context. Cosmetic companies make a lot of money off women.”

Cambodia Living Arts, an NGO that supports the arts here, has attracted 6,000 Facebook fans since its launch in March 2010. That means that even if only half its supporters gave them $1 each, they’d have $3,000 for a project.

CLA Director Phloeun Prim told me by e-mail that the group is aiming for 10,000 fans this year.

“It’s a great way to build a bridge between Cambodians and the world,” he wrote. “Our weekly questions bring a lot of attention and a lot of people answer the question.”

Musical artists like singers Ouk Sokun Kanha and Preap Sovath have Facebook pages too—the former, a woman, has 31,000 fans, while the latter, a man, has about 10 percent of that.

A screenshot of Ouk Sokun Kanha's Facebook Page

All of this is to say that Cambodians are using Facebook more and more and finding more and more uses for it.

Bun Tharum is a freelance journalist, blogger, and digital media specialist. Blogging since 2004, he’s been a contributing-writer for Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent, and several other print publications. His main interests are information and communication technologies for development and online media. Tharum’s base is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city.

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10 responses to “Cambodians and Facebook, a Love Story”

  1. […] Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 3:04 pm. Read the Full Article. […]

    • Samen says:

      Hello, Miss Sokun Kanna.

      How are you ? I like your songs very much. I’d like to wish you have good luck and succeed everything in this year.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Canby Publications. Canby Publications said: RT @tweetcambodia: RT @House32: RT @VOAKhmer: Cambodians and Facebook, a Love Story #cambodia #facebook #love http://goo.gl/50kbv […]

  3. Khmerbotra says:

    I don’t know her. Who is she?

    • SaBinh says:

      Ouk Sokun Kanha, she’s a young, talented, bright, hard working, pretty, gentle, well-educated – not to mention her ability to rock and roll, Ouk Sokun Kagna (Kanha) is all that! Then, you may wonder why this little girl is so right on track with what she is doing at a very young age and what made what she is today. In short, it is her determination and hard working. Of course she was born in a family deep-rooted in music but she is the one who made what she is today herself. Ouk Sokun Kagna started her career exploration in entertaining people since she was about 10 years old. While some girls still play dirt in Cambodia at her age, Ouk Sokun Kagna would go with her father who was a musician and sang along. She took any opportunity she could to show off her God-given talent on stage and not let go the microphone until she is now a professional singer.

      Ouk Sokun Kagna was born on September 14, 1986 (1987 based on other sources) in Phnom Penh. She is the eldest child in the family among another sister. Her mother – En Sokun is now divorced still lives with her and her sister in Phnom Penh. According to some news sources, her father now lives in Australia. Ouk Sokun Kagna is a Fine Art University graduate. Her major is Khmer Traditional Dance. Part of the introduction for the interview with Yuk Chinda for CTN Channel 21, Ouk Sokun Kagna performed a beautiful solo Robam Chuen Por (Blessing Dance). Ouk Sokun Kagna now lives with her mother in Phnom Penh, managing her beauty salon with her mother when she is free. to read more go to this link here http://www.facebook.com/aok.sokunkanha?sk=info

  4. សូម VOA Khmer ជួយផ្សាយពីអំពើពុករលួយ និងក្រុមព្រឹក្សា ប្រឆាំងអំពើពុករលួយជួយ ដោះស្រាយ ផង។
    ខ្ញុំមានបញ្ហាទាក់ទងអំពើពុករលួយ នៅ ភូមិកៀនកែស ស្រុកថ្មគោល ខេត្តបាត់ដំបង
    គឺគ្រាន់តែសុំច្បាប់ធ្វើ ផ្ទះ( ៧គុណ ១៦ម៉ែត) គឺ ខាងសូរីយូដីស្រុកថ្មគោល មានឈ្មោះ ថាពូ(អូន) ជំរឹតទារប្រាក់ពីគ្រូសារខ្ញុំ (១៥០០ ដុល្លា) តែលុះក្រោយមកខាងសូរីយូដីចុះតំលែត្រឹមតែ (១២០០ដុល្លា) (មួយពាន់ពីររយដុល្លា ) នេះគ្រាន់តែសុំច្បាប់ធ្វើផ្ទះអស់ដល់ថ្នាក់នេះតើ ខ្ញុំមានប្រាក់ឯណាសំរាប់ធ្វើផ្ទះបន្ត???តើខ្ញុំគួរធ្វើយ៉ាងណា? ហើយខ្ញុំបានថតខ្សែអាតសំលេងទុកផងដែរ!

  5. […] links: Cambodians and Facebook, a Love Story Tags: News Posted in Internet, […]

  6. […] Cambodians dominate the online space of social networking sites like Facebook.  A large number of Cambodia’s Facebook users are aged between 18 and […]

  7. SaBinh says:

    Hello everyone my name is SoBinh. I am the Administrator for Ouk Sokun Kanha (Aok SokunKanha) fan page and I just want to say that she is like the new Ros Sereysothea for our generation.

  8. Gumdy says:

    Hi every body!! i’m a big fan of Sokunkanha^^

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Bun Tharum is a freelance journalist, blogger, and digital media specialist. Blogging since 2005, he’s been a contributing-writer for Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent, and several other print publications. His main interests are information and communication technologies for development and online media. Tharum’s base is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city.

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