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Report: MySpace sinking fast, but Facebook soars

By Matthew Shaer / June 2, 2009

A screenshot of MySpace, the social networking website on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. A new study shows that time spent on the site is down a staggering 31 percent since 2008.

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Once the reigning social network, MySpace has been sent tumbling off its throne, according to the media research firm Nielsen.

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In a new report, Nielsen reveals that Facebook users spent an extraordinary 13.9 billion minutes on the site – in the month of April alone. Lagging far behind, at 5 billion user minutes, is MySpace, the network launched in 2003, and purchased by News Corp. in 2005. For years, MySpace was the go-to networking site, but it recently lost significant ground to Facebook and Twitter.

If the billions of minutes spent on Facebook aren't dramatic enough for you, consider this: April's figure represents a 699 percent increase over the same time last year. By comparison, time spent on MySpace is down 31 percent since 2008 – a ominous figure by any stretch of the imagination. "MySpace is not firing on all cylinders like Facebook," social networking expert Ray Valdes told CNN.com today. "Their effort to improve the site seems to be fragmented. They need to get on track or they will continue to slide."

Tweet happy

Twitter hype has surged as of late, so it's no surprise to see the site's traffic soaring. Still, the raw data is astonishing: total time spent on Twitter rose 3,712 percent to nearly 300 million minutes over the past year. Writing at AdWeek's website, Brian Morrissey points out that, "Those figures only include visits to Twitter.com, not the use of the many third-party Twitter applications employed to read and respond to messages." In other words, Twitter could be even more popular than the report suggests.

Doomsday scenario

News Corp. has shaken up the MySpace management in recent months, hauling in former AOL chief Jon Miller to head up its Internet efforts, and appointing former Facebooker Owen Van Natta to CEO. Still, the Nielsen report is likely to rattle MySpace, and its parent company.

"Remember Friendster?" Nielsen analyst Jon Gibs said in a statement. "Remember when MySpace was an unbeatable force? Neither Facebook nor Twitter is immune. Consumers have shown that they are willing to pick up their networks and move them to another platform, seemingly at a moment's notice."

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