How Facebook Hopes to Make Even Bigger Inroads Worldwide

April 18, 2017, 5:50 PM UTC
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A man stands in front of a monitor displaying the Facebook Inc. website in this arranged photograph in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Facebook Inc. is boosting the number of shares for sale in its initial public offering to 421 million, letting it raise as much as $16 billion, two people with knowledge of the deal said. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Facebook’s push to expand even more outside the U.S. involves a lot of developers.

The social networking giant said Tuesday that over 80% of third-party developers building apps on top of Facebook’s service are non-U.S. residents from places like Asia and Brazil.

Facebook (FB) disclosed the new statistic during its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose on Tuesday. Last year, Facebook said that over 80% of the top apps built on Facebook come from countries including India, China, Brazil, and Germany.

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The prevalence of non-U.S. developers writing software on top of Facebook underscores the company’s efforts to make its social networking site the primary way for people to interact worldwide. Facebook relies on third-party developers to build features and services that it may not have time to build and to make the social networking site more attractive to users.

The social networking company is also debuting a new developer program for coders to connect with one another and share ideas about building Facebook-powered apps, said Facebook vice president of product partnerships Ime Archibong. The program, called Developer Circles, is one way Facebook is trying to convince coders to build apps on the company’s platform in places like West Africa, where Facebook’s service is less pervasive, explained Archibong.

Archibong said that different cities around the world will get Developer Circles, led by local coders who help corral other regional developers to join. He touted the program as a way for less knowledgeable coders to learn about the latest software development trends and Facebook’s various coding technologies.

The more local coders who join the program and swap ideas, the more likely they will build compelling Facebook apps in their countries—thus enticing local residents to use Facebook’s service. Archibong said Facebook has been testing the new developer program for the past year and now has “dozens all over the world” in places like Brazil and Nigeria.

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As an example of a type of Facebook-powered services the company wants coders to build, Archibong discussed a startup that built an app that helps churches in different African countries keep track of statistics like church attendance and donations.

The app is “making it easy for pastors to know” what their congregations are doing. “When you help the church,” Archibong said, “you help the community.”

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