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Twitter spreads like wildfire, but MySpace still on top

Nielsen Online's September statistics for the biggest and fastest-growing social networks in the U.S. are in, and it looks like MySpace is still clinging onto a lead.

Nielsen has released numbers for its estimates on the biggest and fastest-growing social media sites in the U.S. for the month of September, and there are a few surprises.

10 fastest growing social-networking sites for September 2008
Site Sept. 2007 (000) Sept. 2008 (000) YOY growth
Twitter.com 533* 2,359 343%
Tagged.com 898 3,857 330%
Ning 842* 2,955 251%
LinkedIn 4,075 11,924 193%
Last.fm 850 1,879 121%
Facebook 18,090 39,003 116%
MyYearbook 1,422 3,056 115%
Bebo 1,299 2,418 86%
Multiply 592 941 59%
Reunion.com 4,845 7,601 57%
*These Web sites do not meet minimum sample size standards. Projected and average measures for these sites may exhibit large changes month-to-month as a result.
Source: Nielsen Online

The biggest social network in the U.S. is still News Corp.'s MySpace, Nielsen's numbers found. But the bad news is that its traffic has only grown by 1 percent since September 2007, keeping it just under 60 million visitors, and second-place rival Facebook has grown by 116 percent in the same time period.

Rounding out the top 10 social networks are (in order) Classmates Online, a mainstay that gets little press but a lot of traffic; business networking site LinkedIn; Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces, which Nielsen says has shrunk by eleven percent since September 2007; Reunion.com; kiddie site Club Penguin, now owned by Disney; AOL Hometown, which the service plans to shutter soon; Tagged; and the AOL Community site.

Nielsen's ranking of the fastest-growing social sites is a little more interesting. At the top of the list is Twitter, fueled by loads of press and tie-ins to coverage of the hotly contested presidential election, with 343 percent growth since September 2007. Following in second place is Tagged, which clocked in 330 percent traffic growth and which Nielsen says is most popular with the 35-49 age demographic. In third place is Ning, which is actually a service for creating community sites, followed by LinkedIn, music site Last.fm (owned by CBS Interactive, which publishes CNET News, Facebook, teen site MyYearbook, and then AOL's Bebo.

In ninth place is Multiply, a social network for the nongeek set that recently announced that it had partnered with Microsoft to absorb the MSN Groups service. And in tenth place is Reunion.com, which Nielsen says counts the 55-64 age demographic as its biggest.