Italians spurn Facebook for personal contact

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Only 29 percent of Italians use social media. Photo: Franco Bouly/Flickr
16:39 CEST+02:00
Recent high-profile social media spats aside, Italians are among the least prolific Tweeters and Facebookers in Europe, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

Only 29 percent of Italians use social media. This compares to 65 percent in the Netherlands, 57 percent in the UK and 55 percent in Sweden.

More people in poorer parts of Europe socialize online than Italians do, with 30 percent of Bulgarians saying they use social networks. The Italians are only slightly ahead of their Czech and Romanian counterparts.

Luigi Guiso, an economist at the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance in Rome, told The Local that the lacklustre take-up is most likely due to the Italian preference for human contact.

“They like to see people and have personal contact,” he said.

“They see sites like Facebook as a much slower way to communicate compared to meeting in person. Twitter is slightly different as a high number of Italians use mobile phones and access the site from there. But generally they use the site for getting information rather than socializing.”

He added that the lack of interest is also linked to the overall low use of the internet. Thirty-seven percent of Italians have never used the internet, according to figures released last week from the EU’s yearly digital agenda scoreboard.

Yet despite the low take-up, more elderly Italians are warming to Facebook, Luca Colombo, the site's country manager for Italy said during a conference in Sardinia in early June.

Social media is also popular among high-profile Italians. AC Milan footballer Mario Balotelli took to Twitter earlier this month to make a stand against Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt after he said he didn't like Balotelli much.

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Meanwhile, Dolores Valandro, an ex-Northern League councillor, was ousted from the party after writing on Facebook alongside a photograph of African-Italian Immigration Minister Cecile Kyenge: "Won't someone rape her, just to make her understand what victims of this terrible crime feel? For shame!"

Valandro was apparently reacting to an article on a website called "all immigrant crimes" which detailed an alleged attempt by a Somali in Genoa to rape two Romanian girls. 

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