Saturday, July 21, 2007

Facebook ignores the Vancouver Island

The Vancouver Island (shown in the map on the right side -click to enlarge-) has a land area of 32,134 square kilometers (roughly the size of Belgium). It is the 42nd largest island in the world, 11th largest island in Canada and Canada's second most populous island (after the Island of Montreal). It is home for 723,000 people, who live distributed all across the island. The city of Victoria, which is the official capital of the Province of British Columbia, lies in the southeastern tip of the Vancouver Island. However, there are other cities across it, such as Nanaimo, Tofino, Campbell River and Port Alberni.

All the facts above would make anyone think that the Vancouver Island has some relevance in Canada, enough to avoid being ignored. But it looks that not everybody thinks the same way. At least, the staff at Facebook doesn't.

Facebook is a popular networking site that allows users to create lists of friends to keep in touch with; it is also intended to allow users to make new friends who share similar interests and who live in the same city or region by joining what they call networks. For example, if a person lives in San Diego, they can join the "San Diego Network" to look for old friends or new people who also live in San Diego. However, Facebook doesn't seem to know about the existence of any place in the world called "Vancouver Island".

It is sad but true. People who live in the Vancouver Island don't have any Facebook network to join. They are forced to join other nearby cities' networks, such as Vancouver (city that, although it shares the name with the Vancouver Island, is located in Mainland Canada), Seattle (USA) or Bellingham (USA). Not even the area of Greater Victoria, which contains almost half of the population of the entire island and is the second largest metro area in the Province of British Columbia (after Greater Vancouver), has its own network.

This issue wouldn't be a big deal if Facebook wouldn't have become the most popular networking site on the internet, with over 27 million people around the globe using it. But the users of such web site in the Vancouver Island are a bit upset about Facebook ignoring the island and their petitions, as a fair amount of islanders have already requested Facebook to create a Vancouver Island network.

What upsets them most, is the fact that some other cities and regions in the world, much smaller in terms of land area, population, and internet users, were considered by Facebook to have their own networks. For example, the area of Akrotiri, in Cyprus, serves as a military base for British troops, and has a population of 14,000 people, most of which are British military personnel (and most likely, not Facebook users). And yes, Akrotiri has its own Facebook network.

Another interesting case is the town of Chicoutimi, in Québec, Canada. It is a place with a population of about 65,000 inhabitants, and 734 of them are Facebook users. They also have their own network in such service.

To increase pressure on Facebook to create a network for the Vancouver Island, a group of islanders created a group named "I don't live in Vancouver -- Petition for 'Vancouver Island' network" (mocking the fact that many islanders join the Vancouver network as they don't have any other network to join). The idea of the group is to show Facebook the general feeling of islanders about the lack of a "Victoria network" or a "Vancouver Island" network. To date, 15,075 members have joined this pressure group. Interestingly, the amount of people in the group demanding a specific Facebook network for the Vancouver Island outnumbers the amount of users of some of the current Facebook networks.

Facebook, in the meanwhile, hasn't expressed any opinion about creating or not this kind of network. Will the islanders be successful in getting their own network? It looks that they won't get any answer to that question in the short run, but in the meanwhile, the "I don't live in Vancouver -- Petition for 'Vancouver Island' network" group continues to grow day by day.


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