Who is the Philippines' 'closest friend' on Facebook?

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNNews.com

Posted at Sep 12 2012 08:33 PM | Updated as of Sep 13 2012 06:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines -Which country is the Philippines' "closest friend" on Facebook?

It's the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a new interactive report published by the social network website's  "Stories" section.

The UAE topped the Philippines' "friends" list based on the number of Facebook users in the 2 countries who are friends, according to researcher Mia Newman.

Newman attributed this to the use of Facebook by immigrants and migrant workers who connect with their families and relatives in their countries of origin.

More than 200,000 Filipinos were working in the UAE in 2010, according to latest data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Saudi Arabia, which had more than 293,000 Filipino migrant workers in 2010, is the Philippines' "second-closest friend" on Facebook.

Singapore placed third, followed by Japan and Kuwait.

Facebook data also shows that the Philippines is 4th closest friend of Canada, 2nd closest friend of Japan, and 4th closest friend of South Korea, and 3rd closest friend of Singapore.

The Philippines and the United States are not apparently "close friends" on Facebook, despite the large number of migrant Filipinos in the country's former colonial ruler.

"Immigration is one of the strongest links that seems to bind these Facebook neighbors, as thousands of people pour over borders or over seas, seeking jobs or fleeing violence, and making new connections and maintaining old friendships along the way," said Newman, a Stanford graduate in International Relations.

"Economic links, through trade or investment, also seem to be strong predictors of country connectedness. And finally, one of the most overwhelming trends we found as we explored this graphic is the strong tie that remains between nations and their former colonizers, whose continued linguistic, cultural, and economic ties still echo today," she said.