While social networking may've reached the saturation point in North America, at just 9% growth among people 15+ over the past year, worldwide it has grown 25%, according to June traffic figures from comScore. Social networking's growth was highest in Africa and the Middle East at 66% from June 2007 to June 2008; Europe was next at 35%, and Latin America a close third at 33% (Facebook grew 1,055% in Latin America, 6/07-6/08). ComScore put the global social-networking total at 580.5 million visitors, compared to the world's total number of Internet users, 860.5 million (11% growth over June '07). The numbers for individual social-network sites were interesting too: The world's top 7 sites, in terms of June 2008 unique visitors, are Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Friendster, Orkut, Bebo, and Skyrock Network, respectively. Facebook grew 153% globally to 132.1 million visitors; MySpace grew just 3% (to 117.6 million), and 3rd-ranked Hi5 had the second-highest growth rate of 100% to 56.4 million visitors. The six largest social sites, including Google's Orkut, are all US-based, though Orkut is much more popular outside the US (it's huge in Brazil) and Friendster in Southeast Asia. No. 7, the music-and-blogging community Skyrock Network, is No. 1 in France and based in France (it had 21 million visitors in June). Here's the Machinist (Salon.com columnist) on one possible explanation for social sites' popularity: persuasive technology.
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