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Five charts on a slice of the world’s internet use

IPv6 in India, HTTP on the Isle of Man, TikTok in Brazil, bots in Ireland and more...

It will not surprise any reader to learn that internet use around the world differs dramatically. A new free tool dubbed Radar visualises data from across 25 million internet properties around the world to give some compelling snapshots of just how different the world’s internet use is.

It’s a limited view (the tool and traffic are both from Cloudflare’s network, which although substantial, is far from the “internet”) but it’s an intriguing one. CEO Matthew Prince dubbed the service a “newspaper for the Internet”. Tech Monitor rustled the pages to spot some headlines.

The bot capitals are…

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Bots and web scrapers are not all bad news. Many are conducting useful tasks (think Google’s web crawlers) and comprise a range of software applications that run automated tasks over the internet.

Plenty, of course, are also malicious or occupy a grey area: they can be used to steal digital content, or scrape inventory and pricing details, as well as placing a burden on IT infrastructure, by causing origin sources to compete and undermining its ability to serve legitimate users.

But the scale of their use is astonishing.

In Ireland, 85% of traffic was from bots — the highest for any country bar Luxembourg, where a 98% figure is unreliable owing to sample size. Some 57% of US web traffic meanwhile was bots: up there with some of the most “botted” nations on the planet.

In general, smaller countries have a lower percentage of bot traffic — for example, when we checked, just 16% of the Vatican’s traffic was bots in the past seven days.

The only country with 100% human traffic was the island nation of Niue — though as mentioned before, once you start looking at small nations, the sample size in the data renders such snapshots unreliable.

Africa’s mobile-centricity is stark

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Africa’s straight-to-mobile internet infrastructure has been much remarked on (more than half of those who used the internet over a three-month period measured by the UN in 2018 in lower-income countries accessed it exclusively via a mobile phone) but Radar’s data puts it in stark relief.

In Zambia, more than three quarters (77%) of traffic was from a mobile device. That was followed in Africa by South Sudan (76%) Sierra Leone (74%) and Liberia (71%). At the extreme other end of the scale is Ireland, with less than 10% of traffic coming from a mobile device (9.4%), and the United States, with just over a fifth (21%) of web users browsing on mobile.

TikTok beats Google…

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Despite coming under US Government pressure, the largest chunk of TikTok.com’s traffic originates from the States — home to 43% of queries. (In China, the website Douyin is the official version of TikTok). However, TikTok is not the most popular website in the US — that title instead goes to Google.

We did, however, find 16 countries where TikTok was the most visited website in the past week — most notably in South America.

These included Brazil, which was responsible for 9.1% of global visits in the past seven days, Argentina was responsible for just over 1%, and Ecuador was just under 1%.

Other countries where TikTok was the top website were Armenia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Djibouti, Indonesia, Laos, Moldova, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia, and the UAE.

The Isle of Man is HTTP-heavy

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Sierra Leone is the only country in the world where a majority of traffic is still unsecured, running through unencrypted HTTP rather than HTTPS. (This makes web connections vulnerable to eavesdroppers, man-in-the-middle attacks/hijackers who can spoof a trusted website).

Ireland however is the next largest country, with 45% of traffic still using the unsecured version of the protocol. Perhaps unusually, the Isle of Man also ranks in the top ten for insecure websites. A worryingly insecure look for a tax haven in which more than 200 companies are registered daily.

On the other hand, Luxembourg is the most secure, with 99% of traffic running through the newer, and safer, protocol.

India is the largest adopter of IPv6

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Three years after IPv6 was ratified as an internet standard, most of the world is still playing catch-up.

IPv6 is there to stop internet addresses running out. It substitutes the IPv4 address method of four sets of one to three-digit numbers for more substantial groupings of numbers: by using 28-bit addresses, it allows 3.4 x 1038 unique IP addresses; or equal to 340 trillion, trillion, trillion IP addresses.)

It’s also faster than IPv4.

When we checked, Cloudflare’s data showed that just one in five requests across the world were using the newest Internet Protocol (IP) in the past seven days — with not one country above 50% usage.

That is with one major caveat — India — where 55% of traffic over the past seven days was using IPv6.

Michael Goodier is a data journalist with the New Statesman Media Group .