People hanging out more on Facebook than Google

By a narrow margin, Web surfers spent more minutes visiting Facebook than using Google, YouTube, and Gmail combined during August, according to new research.

Internet users are spending a bit more time these days socializing on Facebook than searching on Google, according to new data from market researcher ComScore.

In August, people spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook, accounting for 9.9 percent of the total number of minutes they spent online for the month. That inched past the 39.8 million minutes, or 9.6 percent of total time, that Net users spent on all of Google's sites combined, including its search engine, YouTube, Gmail, and Google News, ComScore said Thursday.

For the month, Yahoo proved the third most popular online hangout, with people spending 37.7 million minutes, or 9.1 percent of total time, on Yahoo sites. In July, Facebook slipped past Yahoo in the number of minutes spent online for the first time, noted ComScore.

The latest stats contrast with August 2009 in which Internet users spent less than 5 percent of their time on Facebook, about the same amount on Google sites, and almost 12 percent of their monthly minutes on Yahoo.

ComScore also cited data from August 2007. Back then, Web surfers spent less than 2 percent of their monthly time on Facebook, under 4 percent on Google, and slightly more than 12 percent at Yahoo.

To compile its figures, ComScore relies on feedback from a panel of around 2 million users as well as data captured from various Web sites.

Facebook recently hit the 500 million member mark . Some reports indicate that its growth, at least in the United States, has slowed the past few months following its meteoric rise the past few years. However, the network still has considerable room to grow outside the U.S., particularly in such countries as Russia, Japan, and South Korea, according to ComScore.

One country where Facebook has caught on is India, where it recently surpassed Google's Orkut social network in the number of users. The latest data from ComScore shows that Facebook's membership grew 179 percent in India year over year to 20.9 million users. Orkut's membership grew 16 percent there year over year to 19.9 million people.

 

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