LONDON Jun 27 Facebook overtook Microsoft
websites in Britain for the first time last month,
becoming the UK's second-most popular after Google as
people aged over 50 flocked to social networks, online
measurement body UKOM/Nielsen said.
Facebook attracted a record 26.8 million visitors in Britain
in May, up 7 percent year on year, beating the 26.2 million who
visited Microsoft's MSN/WindowsLive/Bing sites combined, the
organisation said on Monday. Google had 33.9 million.
Twitter's UK audience jumped by a third to 6.1 million,
after thousands of users retweeted allegations of celebrity
scandals in defiance of gagging orders, including an
extra-marital affair by Manchester United soccer star Ryan
UKOM/Nielsen said the number of women pensioners visiting
the site doubled after "Giggsgate".
"The growth in audiences to these social networks is now
primarily being driven by the 50-plus age group. Just a few
years ago, this group may have found itself out of place on
these sites," UKOM general manager James Smythe said.
He said over-50 year-olds accounted for more new adults
visiting Facebook in the last two years than under-50s,
resulting in an age profile far more closely reflecting that of
the UK online population as a whole than previously.
Older age groups were also more likely to visit Twitter than
in the past, but under-18s were less likely to visit the site
than two years ago -- which was not the case for Facebook.
Business network LinkedIn , whose market value has
risen 58 percent to $6.65 billion since its New York stock
market debut last month, registered 3.6 million UK visitors in
May, up 57 percent from a year earlier.
Elsewhere, Facebook attracted 140 million visitors in the
United States, up 12 percent. In Spain its numbers were up 7
percent, in France 18 percent, in Italy 26 percent and in
Germany 72 percent.
Twitter's visitor numbers rose 22 percent in the United
States, 48 percent in France, 58 percent in Italy and more than
doubled in Spain. But in Germany they fell by 11 percent.
UKOM/Nielsen monitored the online behaviour of about 50,000
people in Britain and similar numbers in the other countries.
The panel was recruited both online and offline.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)