Facebook cracks Top 10 in Web site visitors

John Shinal · February 19, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/6ee

January site visits surged, before this month's privacy fiasco

 Before Facebook got into another hornets' nest over privacy this past week, it continued to show strong growth in its number of unique visitors.

Based on comScore's latest numbers, for the month of January, Facebook climbed one spot from last month and was the tenth-most popular Web site, with 57.2 million visitors. That total was more than 50 percent higher than the 33.9 million Facebook had in January 2008, showing its strong growth continuing.

It was the first month that the social network was among the ten most popular U.S. Web sites. Facebook was wedged in between No. 9 Wikimedia and No. 11, GlamMedia.

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, meanwhile, continued their lock on the top three positions. Google's 151 million visitors just edge out Yahoo's 146 million. Microsoft had 125 million and AOL properties, 108 million.

Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, rounded out the top 5 with 90 million visits.

We'll have to wait a month to see  whether Facebook's mishandling of a change to its privacy policy will impact its growth at all. For the second time in 18 months, Facebook did an about-face after receiving a firestorm of criticism over the change.  

The social network had changed the terms to allow it to keep ownership of content which had been taken down by the user who had posted it. After first trying to assuage user fears, the company backed down.

Coming after the Beacon uproar in late 2007, it was yet another example of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and team trying to push the privacy envelope only to retreat in the face of user protests. It's also a reminder of two things: the first is that Facebook users should be very selective in what they post to the site, because the social network's privacy policy is an evolving animal that could one day wrest control of what they post.

It also reminds us that Facebook will continue to face blowback from its own community as it tries to make changes it feels will lead to revenue. That struggle between making money and protecting the user experience will likely be with the company forever.  

The beginning of tax season gave tax-related sites a boost, as the four sites showing the fastest month-to-month visitor growth were all tax related. The roiling economy also impacted the numbers, as career-related sites saw strong growth. 

Despite all the economic gloom, however, travel-related sites saw a strong uptick, suggesting that Americans are at least hoping to put together some vacation travel this year.

Here's a list of the fastest-growing categories:

TABLE 2


comScore Top 10 Gaining Site Categories* by Percentage Change in Unique Visitors (U.S.)

January 2009 vs. December 2008

Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations

Source: comScore Media Metrix

 

 

Total Unique Visitors (000)

Dec-08

Jan-09

% Change

Total Internet : Total Audience

190,650

191,863

1

Business/Finance – Taxes

8,935

24,703

176

Travel - Ground/Cruise

8,942

13,028

46

Career Services & Development - Job Search

18,826

26,702

42

Career Services & Development - Career Resources

38,911

48,900

26

Retail - Computer Software

30,186

37,545

24

News/Information - Politics

11,992

13,710

14

Travel - Hotels/Resorts

26,671

29,976

12

Government

80,564

89,662

11

Travel - Online Travel Agents

35,565

38,973

10

Business/Finance - Online Trading

10,758

11,743

9

 

To see the full report, go to comscore.

(Image scourtesy of the U.K. Daily Mail, Business Week)

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