Internet usage worldwide - Statistics & Facts

There was an estimate of 3.5 billion internet users worldwide in 2016. This means about 45 percent of the global population accessed the internet that year. The majority of global internet users are located in East and South Asia, while China is the largest online market in the world. In 2016, China had over 721 million internet users, more than double the amount of third-ranked U.S. with nearly 290 million internet users. India ranked second in number of users; Brazil and Japan complete the top 5. English is the most common language on the internet by share of users, followed by Chinese and Spanish. South Korea has the world's fastest average internet connection speed – 27 Mbps as of 2016. The global average internet speed stood at 6.1 Mbps that year.

Internet users often turn to their mobile devices to access the internet. Millennial internet users, for example, spent an average of 185 minutes on mobile internet services every day in 2016. Generation X internet users’ average daily use of mobile internet stood at 110 minutes that year. Many companies have been profiting from the increased mobile usage by following a mobile-first strategy and optimizing their content for mobile devices. Some of the most popular mobile internet activities are using email, working, social networking, online search, online video and online shopping. Instant messaging is also popular among mobile internet users worldwide. WhatsApp is the most popular mobile messaging app in the world with one billion monthly active users. Facebook Messenger closely follows with 900 million monthly active users. Facebook was found to be the leading social network with 1.7 billion active users. Other popular social networks include Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as mobile chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat.

The ever expanding e-commerce market is a huge attraction to internet users worldwide, as shown in the growth of e-commerce volume and consumer spending. E-retail revenue is forecast to nearly double between 2016 and 2020. Mobile retail is also one of the fastest growing online categories, considering global mobile e-commerce is expected to generate about 669 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2018. Mobile commerce is incredibly popular in Asia. About 43 percent of South Koreans have made online purchases as of 2015, and 34 percent of Chinese stated buying something online via phone. Amazon is a leader in mobile commerce sales, amounting more than 27 billion U.S. dollars in revenue from its mobile commerce. Other leading e-retailers include Apple, Jingdong Mall and Google Play.

With the rise of digital platforms and the increasing importance of the internet, the debate around data privacy has gained momentum. Hacktivism – the act of hacking information based on a social or political agenda – and data leak scandals, such as the Panama Papers, are becoming more common incidents in the digital era. Data privacy is also discussed between governments, companies and citizens. It is a common practice that government agencies and courts ask technology and communications companies, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, for information about one’s use of their services for different purposes. A large share of global internet users believes law enforcement should have the right to access citizens' online communications for valid national security reasons.

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