Will foreign audiences drive US social networking?

Since the late 90s, the U.S. film industry has made more money overseas than it has domestically. Some posit that the need for easy-translated films has driven the development of films heavy with action but light on dialogue.  An article in Monday’s LA Times looks at the rising appeal of non-US markets to the social networking industry and makes one wonder how a reliance on global markets will change what we consume domestically:

Until now, most successful Web 2.0 companies from the U.S. have stumbled on an international audience almost by accident. Media coverage and word of mouth, along with the global hegemony of the English language, have been enough to attract a substantial international following. Social networking service Facebook, for instance, operates through a single U.S. website, but nearly a fifth of its active users are in Canada and Britain, and those markets are growing much faster. More than half of YouTube’s audience comes from outside the U.S.

The international appeal of U.S. services heavily based on American content, however, is likely to be limited. …Companies such as YouTube also hope to make an asset of their global content, which will be available to all users, no matter which national site they access — with appropriate changes made to reflect local content laws and regulations. As Google’s Schmidt says: “Anybody who thinks the Web is borderless has not been paying attention to the people going to jail” for failing to respect local laws.

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