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In battle for Friends, Facebook now twice as popular as MySpace

MySpace is still ahead in U.S. visitors, but Facebook dominates worldwide

January 23, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The pioneer of the social networking phenomenon has been totally overshadowed as Facebook Inc. recorded almost double the number of global visitors in December than longtime leader MySpace.com Inc.

Facebook, once thought of as the up-and-coming social network, had almost 222 million unique visitors last month, while MySpace came in at 125 million, according to online researcher comScore Inc. That's a dramatic change since the race for unique visitors was a near dead heat in April 2008.

"The trend isn't new in terms of Facebook's phenomenal growth," said Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore. "It's doubled its number of visitors in the past year."

However, while Facebook holds a sizable lead worldwide, MySpace is still the champ in the U.S. Lipsman noted that Facebook has about 55 million American users every month, while MySpace has 75.9 million a month.

And two-thirds of MySpace users are based in the U.S., while only a quarter of Facebook's users are here in the states. Lipsman said Facebook has done a great job of luring in worldwide users, especially with its foreign language interfaces. In the markets with the new interfaces, he noted that Facebook quickly went from a small player to a leader in social networking.

"It's gained traction because it's become more culturally relevant," said Lipsman. "I think there's a lot of room for international growth [for MySpace]. MySpace is rooted in the music culture in the U.S., but it needs to transcend that market. Maybe there's an opportunity to strike a cord with international audiences."

Allan Krans, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc., said Facebook is continuing to gain momentum because it continues to reach out to new users with promotions like this week's collaboration with CNN. In a somewhat new twist to social networking, a lot of techies watched Tuesday's inauguration of President Barack Obama with all of their Facebook friends. According to InsideFacebook.com, more than 1 million people had updated their Facebook status through the CNN.com Live Facebook feed as of halfway through Inauguration Day.

"The onus is on [MySpace] to reinvent themselves, attract a different segment of folks and attract some people back," said Krans. "You need to capture the next trend and not just catch up with what people are doing now."

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