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Facebook is without a doubt the dominant social network around the world, although there are certain countries where other networks predominate. Brazil has Orkut, China has Ren Ren and Russia has VKontakte. Cuba never had its own network until now, with the advent of Red Social. Created by the Cuban Ministry of Education with the aim of connecting universities around the country, the social network is only accessible through an intranet on the island.
News of the network was first reported on the Cuban blog La Chiringa de Cuba by Carlos Alberto Pérez Benitez. The site uses a Facebook clone address that is inaccessible from the United States (just try it: http://facebook.ismm.edu.cu/). It is also interesting to note that last year Cuba launched its own sort of Wikipedia, Ecu Red which offers a Cuban view of things (often with a strong political tone). Given the political uprising in Egypt earlier this year, which was fueled by participation on Facebook, closed regimes are nervous about the potential for political organizing on social networks. This may explain Cuba’s decision to start Red Social. And since only 2% of Cubans have internet access, it’s unlikely that Facebook will be pursuing legal action about the very similar designs and the use of their domain name any time soon.