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Whee! New numbers on social network usage

Traffic firm releases a rundown of January 2009 traffic figures from social networks ranging from Facebook to Facebook comes in on top.

The blogosphere simply loves to slurp up social-networking traffic stats, and on Monday we got a nice tasty serving of them with some new numbers from for the month of January. The results? Facebook is in the lead, with about 68 million unique visitors, well ahead of MySpace's 58 million. (The two are pegged at 1.1 billion and 810 million page views, respectively.)

This may be the first survey we've seen that puts Facebook ahead of the News Corp.-owned MySpace in U.S. traffic. It also puts Twitter as the third-biggest social-media site in the country by total page views, with only about six million unique visitors but a whopping 54 million views.

Compete's numbers are interesting, because they often are pretty different from other analytics firms'. Here are some clarifications, explained to CNET News in an e-mail sent by Compete's Andy Kazeniac: These are numbers stemming entirely from Web browser data in the U.S. That means that you won't be pulling in any international numbers, where most of Facebook's users are now, or data from widgets or third-party applications, which are how many avid Twitter users access the service. That means that it's likely that Twitter's reach is bigger than the numbers indicate.

What's also intriguing is that there are a few social-media sites, like Flixster and LiveJournal, with relatively low unique visitor counts but proportionally very high page view counts, indicating that they probably have smallish bases of very loyal users.

Also pulling in notable numbers are LinkedIn, with about 11 million unique users,, with about 17 million, and, with slightly under 14 million. On the other end? AOL's Bebo, an $850 million purchase, which clocks in as having just shy of three million unique visitors. True, its biggest user bases are in the U.K. and Ireland, but that's not good considering the price tag.

Still, statistics are like tequila shots. Always take 'em with a few grains of salt and a slice of lime, and be warned that they may give you headaches.