Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Is Either Gender More Social Online?
  • Facebook Shows Strong Presence In Asia/Middle East
  • Google Launches an App Store for Google Apps
  • General Public Believes in Wide-Reaching and Open Internet

Is Either Gender More Social Online?

Liberty Mutual released a survey on social media use that was aimed at analyzing usage differences on social networks between men and women. The survey runs opposite of other studies in the same arena and goes against typical perceptions of social networking online.

According to the study, men are likely to use 'other' social media accounts at least a few times a week. Also, men are more likely to friend a boss or co-worker and men are also more apt to maintain more than one social networking account (perhaps a Twitter and Facebook profile). Another interesting dynamic: men are more accepting of CEO's tweeting about their company (51% to 37% of men vs. women, respectively).

Do these statistics and observations mean men are more social online? No, it doesn't. This study is taking specific online habits and patterns and putting them through a gender-lens. The study does not take into account time spent on social networks, number of friends/connections and other interesting patterns, by gender. These data points would be very interesting to see in the future.

Facebook Shows Strong Presence In Asia/Middle East

Facebook has shown very strong growth lately. The big daddy of social networking sites just surpassed 400 million users, an eye-catching number to say the least. Digging in to the numbers a bit, it seems Facebook is a growing force in Asia. According to Alexa, Facebook recently topped Orkut in India.

Also, looking at Asia alone, 15% of all Facebook users come from this region. The top growth countries in this region are Thailand, India and Pakistan, all showing growth in terms of changed percentage. Iraq, Kuwait and Oman are sending lots of users Facebook's way as well.

Facebook gets a lot of press and attention here in the western world, and advertisers and other stakeholders should study what opportunities Facebook's international user base present. Facebook also should consider localizing their website in these key geographies to boost loyalty amongst social networkers.

Google Launches an App Store for Google Apps

Google recognizes that Google Apps is a much needed productivity tool for many businesses. With this in mind, the company is looking to open up the Apps ecosystem for other technology solution providers to utilize the platform to sell more services to Apps customers. Google Apps has a large user base, with 25 million customers using the service every day. Now, developers can publish their tools for enterprise customers to use 'in the cloud'.

Like the App store that Apple runs for iPhone apps, the Google Apps Marketplace will require developers to submit their projects and wait for approval.  Also like iTunes, there is a revenue split, with Google's share being 20% of all fees in the Marketplace.

Applications on the platform at launch include: an Intuit application that allow for payroll/invoicing functionality, Atlassian Studio which facilitates project management and now integration with Gmail and Google Apps, and Jira, a bug tracking software that now allows for interaction for product and software teams.

As you can see, the business use of an apps marketplace will be far reaching. Web-enabled businesses will flock to these service add-ons as the portfolio of offerings continue to grow.

General Public Believes in Wide-Reaching and Open Internet

The BBC World Service surveyed 27,000 people in 26 counties and asked whether access to the Internet is a fundamental right and whether that Internet access should be free from regulation.  In astounding numbers, respondents responded affirmative on both accounts with 80% agreeing that 'net access is a right and half saying that net neutrality is fundamentally important.

Respondents in South Korea, Nigeria and Mexico had the strongest opinions surrounding a regulatory-free Internet, whereas folks in Pakistan, Turkey and China we the least likely agree. This points to either highly-restricted or conservative countries who don't see a free Internet as an important factor in daily life.

What activities do users conduct while online?  According to this BBC story, 50% say they value the ability to find a wide breadth of information, over 30% utilize 'net access to communicate and interact with others and 12% desire access to information.

If access to a free and open Internet is a 'fundamental right', then hopefully governments, telecommunication providers and other agencies will come together to expand access to poorly served areas.  Utilizing wireless technology such as 3G may be a way to further democratize 'Net access and extend free flowing information internationally.