Remarkably, over this past week search giant Google was surpassed by social networking site Facebook as most visited website online in the US, with only 7.03 percent of all website visits to Facebook's 7.07 percent, according to an analysis done by Hitwise. The difference in visits, albeit small, is telling, as it reflects the growing tendency of internet users to look to their friends rather than search engines for online media.
Facebook does come in as the fourth source for visits to specifically news and media websites, behind the main Google search site, Yahoo, and MSN. But when compared to smaller search sites Google News and Google Reader, which direct 1.39 and .01 percent respectively of all upstream visitors to news and media websites, Facebook has a clear lead in providing 3.52 percent of all visits.
Even CNN finds Facebook to be a threat to its ability to distribute online media. `
"I'm more worried about the 500 million or so people on Facebook versus the two million on Fox," said CNN President Jon Klein at a Bloomberg BusinessMedia conference in New York.
The increase in visits to Facebook may mean better things for some media outlets than others. A recent survey showed that most users are sharing links more on the weekend than weekdays, despite this being a time during which less news is produced. And a Hitwise analysis shows that links posted on Facebook are more likely to send its users to broadcast news sites rather than newspapers.
Such a small difference in website visits means that Google may eventually regain its throne, but in the meantime, this reinforces the fact that as a content aggregator, Facebook is a force to be reckoned with.
Sources: Wall Street Journal