Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Social networks steal billions of dollars from economies

Social networking has been accused of all mortal sins. It deprives people of live communication, makes citizens dependent on the internet, and causes a number of other psychological issues. But these are not the only troubles caused by social networks. It turns out that this technology has an extremely negative impact on the economy, causing billions in losses each year.

Last year alone because of the Russians' engagement in social networks, the Russian economy lost between 281.7 billion and 311.5 billion rubles. These results were announced by analysts of an auditing and consulting company FBK. They calculated the number of working hours residents of Russia spend in social networks.

The number is obviously only relative, considering how the calculations were made. Experts estimate that by the end of last year, the number of users of social networks (YouTube, VKontakte, Facebook, and Twitter) has increased, according to various estimates, by 51.8 to 57.8 million people. Researchers from SomScore found out that every Russian in 2012 spent about 25.6 minutes a day in social networks, including working hours that would otherwise be spent for the benefit of their companies and the economy of the country, respectively. The FBK were able to calculate that every Russian who has an account in social networks has lost a total of 53.1 hours of working time last year.

Researchers were also able to figure out which industry suffers from the social activity of its employees the most. For example, employees working in the financial and real estate sectors damaged the economy in the amount of 67.9 billion rubles, more than employees of all other areas of the market. Workers of the educational sphere enthusiastic about social networks hurt the economy a little less, and caused the economy the loss of 39.8 billion rubles. Even government employees and military security and social insurance workers brought in a loss of 36.6 billion rubles. The least damaging for the economy are employees of the agricultural sector and the Russians involved in forestry (0.9 billion rubles), Lenta.ru reported.

However, the Russians are still far from U.S. citizens whose engagement with social networks hurts the economy of the country much more. As estimated by FBK, social networks annually "steal" approximately $650 billion from the economy of the United States. "Compared to similar estimates for the U.S. and the UK, the economic losses from the Russians' participation in social networks do not look that significant. However, compared to some items of expenditure of the federal budget, Russia's losses are very high. They are comparable to the annual allocation for the support of transportation or a half of federal spending on education," said the director of the Institute of Strategic Analysis FBK Igor Nikolaev, as quoted by Vedomosti.

However, Russia has the potential to catch up with the United States in terms of the damage from the social networks in the coming years. Today, Russia is the fifth on the list of the countries whose citizens are mostly engaged in social networking. The first four places are distributed between China, the U.S., India and Brazil. Incidentally, the Brazilians were found to be the most avid fans of social networks. Meanwhile, previously Russia was the undisputed leader in the engagement with social networks. The situation changed after 2012, when the Russians descended to the third place in the ranking, losing to the users from tropical countries. According to the data published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta in February of 2013, the residents of Brazil and Argentina spent in social networks 9.8 and 9.7 hours per month, respectively, only slightly ahead of the Russians, who engage in interactive dialogues 9.6 hours per month.

Roman Sakharov.