It's quite simple Facebook is banned in certain countries and english isn't a native language for many of these countries. Considering this, the other local social networks have more specific features suited for the local crowd such weibo and qzone for china. Korea also has one. Weibo has more features than twitter. The principle of "less is more" doesn't work well with many of these other countries and their social networks.
That's discounting first-mover network effects before Facebook became as international as it is today (VKontakte in Russia) and the big case where Facebook is outright banned (China). For the rest, you have a point.
Stats like this make me feel alienated from my fellow man (and woman).
I hate the fact that there is a whole universe of discourse from which I am excluded simply because I choose not to jump on board.
Take email for example. You can be on Hotmail, I can be on Gmail, she can run her own mail server (hopefully not sendmail!?) and we can all speak to each other. Open protocols, federated. Run your own, go with someone else's offering.
When, oh when, are we going to get federated social networking protocols? How hard can it be? You can be on G+, she can be on Facebook, I can run my own Diaspora* server and yet we can all friend and un-friend each other and follow and un-follow, unhindered by corporate boundaries.
I despise lock-in of all varieties. We've been there and back twenty years ago with Microsoft on the desktop, now we have to contend with Facebook on the web. Who will be next in twenty years time? Why does no one else care? Why do most people not see that this only and inevitably leads to a less well off world for all of us.
And yet here we are, the supposed digerati, and what are we doing about it? Sweet Fanny Adams, that's what. We jump on every story about Facebook because we know they are the new nexus of lock-in rather than trying to break their grip on the web.
I can tell you, I was never happier than when I deleted my Facebook account. Of course it could have something to do with the constant social anxiety I am afflicted with. Or I could chalk it down to my long-term vision of a better communing with my fellow man.
My thought was that, simply by staying off of Facebook, I can avoid one of the more privacy intrusive social networks out there. I also avoid the place most targeted for tracking people.
I have a close collection of friends (defined as the people who will always show up to help me move) and family on Path, and, until Path move's (further?) into the dark side, we're all quite happy there. For the few people who are also on Facebook, they have a pass-through-posting capability that lets people post on both networks.
On a personal level, it is probably best to be happy with your decision, move on and don't be bothered with what other people are doing.
As for federated social networks, without a dictator running things it would rapidly degenerate into spam - I work on fb virals and I could think of many ways to abuse a federated setup for profit if I felt like it. So for that reason alone I don't see it happening, but there are others too.
I think you're really not missing anything. I didn't have FaceBook until last year and I opened an account just to hit on a girl (now my girlfriend). I could have found her phone number using another medium (oldschool "friend of friend" way ; )
Now I've got 110 "friends" (most of them wouldn't help me move out) and the pathetic things they post are truly depressing. Including my own family. So when I'm using FaceBook basically I'm using "Hide", "Hide", "Hide" and asking to only see the important updates.
The only reason me and my gf both keep using it is because we're "liking" certain authors / websites / brands / etc. and it's convenient to keep informed of their new stuff.
But in all honesty for that kind of use Google+ is just sooo much better (and businesses, even the more obscure ones, are slowly adding Google+) for this kind of stuff.
I may close it soon: I hate the privacy fiasco (I browse using separate accounts etc. but still...) and I really thing hardly anything of value can be found there.
I do also see that during one year's time people are getting more and more passive on FB.
So don't worry. You're not losing much.
Kinda like your federated social network idea that said. Walled gardens do s*ck and FaceBook is one heck of a closed one...
Watching the animation it is interesting that Iran flipped from facebook being to dominant in June 2009 to Cloob being dominant in June 2010. Wonder if this was due to government action or something else?
EDIT: Read the actual story. It says due to state censorship.
Wow...I just checked the top list on Alexa for S.Korea and there are 5 chinese websites in top 10 and 12 in top 20. For some reason that seriously surprised me. While Baidu I understand as it had been trying to reach its arms into Japan and S.K, but it just baffles me that QQ.com can be higher than Naver, which is home to the largest native S.K portal site.