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Three all-American internet facts

US Flag with Computer Icons

Three all-American internet facts

Today may be U.S. Independence Day, but one thing Americans can’t live independently from is the internet. It’s without doubt the country most readily associated with being online, with it being the birthplace of .com, and the origin of all the most popular social media sites and search engines used by the Western world today.

In honour of our friends from across the pond, here are three facts about the U.S. and its internet impact:

1. Americans (mostly) invented the internet

The ‘inventor’ of the internet is often said to be Londoner Tim Berners-Lee, who introduced us to HTML and WWW. As ComputerHope.com explains, though, it’s inaccurate to credit one person with inventing the web as most of its early framework was developed on the other side of the Atlantic.

New Yorker Leonard Kleinrock is the first person known to have envisaged the internet in a 1961 paper. The following year, fellow Americans J.C.R. Licklider and Robert Taylor developed a network connecting research and education centres.

The University of California, Los Angeles was pivotal in early networks and primitive emailing, and in 1969, an ‘internet’ of sorts existed connecting centres in Utah and the West Coast.

Americans Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn are also often referred to as ‘fathers’ of the internet, and the term Information Superhighway was coined by the man who almost became their president in 2001 – Al Gore.

2. It has more Facebook users than any other country

Statistics from June 2016 show that just over 200 million Americans have a Facebook account, meaning nearly two thirds of the population is set up on the social media site. Second-placed India is well behind it on 157 million, while China, despite being the most populous country on Earth, officially has only 1,800,000 Facebook users due to the site being largely censored by the Chinese government.

Surprisingly though, only 87.9% of Americans are ‘internet users’, which is below the likes of Japan (94%), the UK (92%), South Korea (89.4%) and Germany (89%).

3. Eight of the ten most followed Twitter accounts are run by Americans

Pop stars dominate the Twitterverse, with Katy Perry topping the charts with over 100 million followers, and fellow American singers Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake also in the top 10 most followed accounts. With Barack Obama, Ellen DeGeneres and Californian social media sites YouTube and Twitter itself also in the top 10, one country is clearly producing the most followable tweeters.

Even the two non-Americans in the top 10 – Canadian Justin Bieber and Barbadian Rihanna – have U.S. residences and spend most of their time in the country.

No doubt America’s questionable choice of president will be on Twitter with something to say about his first Independence Day in the White House, but just for today, let’s celebrate the positive contributions made to the net by a country celebrating its 241st year without Britain holding its hand.

John Murray

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