Social networks

Digital divide is still a problem in Honduras. Although there is some progress in Internet penetration in the Honduran society, according to a Conatel study prepared in 2017 "the number of [mobile] subscribers or subscribers of fixed Internet reached a total of 238.455 at the end of this quarter of the year, observing a growth of 1.78 percent with respect to the previous quarter. The number of mobile Internet subscribers or subscribers reached a total of 2,267,184, with a growth of 7.39 percent compared to the previous quarter. In comparison with other Central American countries, it is still low, remembering that only 32.5 percent of a population of 8,304,677 people have penetration" (Conatel, 2017).

According to the study of social networks (ilifebelt, Estudio redes sociales, 2017), "more than 90 percent of Hondurans who use social networks do so from a mobile device, with Honduras being the 3rd country in the region with the highest adoption of mobile devices in the region." The mobile applications with the most users in Honduras are Facebook (installed on 92.6 percent of mobiles), WhatsApp (90 percent), YouTube (77 percent) and Instagram (60 percent). Facebook is the most used social media network, with 3 million active profiles, while Instagram had 800,000 users at the beginning of 2018, compared to 600,000 in 2017. WhatsApp is the leader in instant messaging. YouTube prevails in social networks. Twitter is the most used social network of microblogging, although its influence is decreasing.

As shown by a 2016 study by iLifebelt, women between the ages of 21 and 30 use social networks more than men of the same age bracket, while young high-school and university students between the ages of 14 and 30 use mostly Instagram and Snapchat. Young people and women in rural areas continue to use Facebook.

In addition, a specific behavioral trend has been observed regarding the consumption of social networks and news, in which users privilege reviewing their networks (Facebook and WhatsApp) before consuming news. As mentioned above (ERIC, 2017) television is still the main means by which citizens are informed, followed by email for press releases, newsletters and general communication purposes (at 50 percent). However, the social and political impact of social networks in Honduras is becoming a phenomenon, especially in those issues of collective interest and that have to do with the life and management of the state. Issues such as corruption, drug trafficking, migration and the constant questioning of public officials by citizens, become viral in a matter of seconds in the networks and force those who are questioned to pronounce themselves. The so-called "memes" have become modern political satire.

There have been some concerns on the proper use of social networks on issues of hate speech against personalities persists, especially in sectors linked to the national government. However, it is certain that social networks have changed the way news are consumed in Honduras, and have converted these platforms in a battlefield of ideas, where discourses, political tendencies and approaches on how the state should function, are placed. The polarisation of users seems to dominate the discourses in networks such as Facebook, making it easy to cross the line of false information, political gossip and misinformation, which is especially problematic during electoral times. This polarisation in social networks determines to a large extent a lack of plurality, as people tend obtain information from their social media news feeds, which tend to reflect their own opinion back, thereby hardening their positions and preventing dialogue between different parties.

In terms of revenue, advertising on the Internet has increased continuously from 2010 to 2015, with only a slight decrease in 2017, reaching a total amount of around US$35m by the end of 2017. With this growth in online advertising, according to Asociación de Agencias Publicitarias de Honduras (Association of Publicity Agencies of Honduras – APPA) "the industry grew 5 percent in total." In terms of the platform, the online advertising investment of 2017 in Honduras was led by investment in Google, followed by Facebook and Instagram. Search engines and websites are the two main gateways to content for Hondurans. Social networks are in third place, although they are the first in terms of average web browsing time. As for YouTube, the channel The Focking Team has to date more than 197,000 subscribers. On Twitter, six of the ten main accounts by number of followers, belong to news media. We also find them among the top ten Facebook fan pages: HCH, The Herald, The Tribune, Channel 36, The Time Diary, RDS Radio, Channel 5, Educational Television Channel 10, Channel 11.