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According to a new study by Nielsen-Online, social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity. Collectively referred to as "Member Communities," Nielsen says these are visited by over two-thirds of the online population, putting them "ahead of personal email." It's also the fastest-growing sector out of the top four, which also includes search, portals, and PC software and email.
"Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience," says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online (PDF). "While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large."
Facebook, which ranks as the most popular social network, draws three out of every 10 people online each month across the nine markets tracked. And it's not limited to any single age group. According to Nielsen, the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 came from the 35-49 demographic.
The report, titled "Global Faces and Networked Places," attributes some of the growth to the prominence of mobile phones, noting a "big increase over last year" in the number of users visiting Member Communities through their handsets.
Surprised by any of this?
Image Credit: Nielsen-Onlne