Opinion Brief

Is Facebook really more popular than Google?

The social networking juggernaut topped Google in Web traffic last week. What does that tell us about the future of the Internet?

Facebook surpassed Google last week as the most-visited U.S. website, according to a new survey by web analysis firm Hitwise. It marks the first time in nearly three years that the search giant hasn't occupied the top spot. But likely more disturbing to Google is the difference in year-over-year growth rates, with Facebook's 185 percent expansion in traffic dwarfing its own 9 percent uptick. What does this changing of the guard tell us about the future of the Web? (Watch a discussion about Facebook's ascent to internet supremacy)

We trust our "friends" more than Google: Facebook's traffic win tells us that "people want information from friends they trust, versus the the anonymity of a search engine," says Hitwise's Matt Tatham, quoted in CNNMoney. But Facebook shouldn't get cocky: "The Internet can be a fickle crowd" — just ask MySpace. "Facebook traffic tops Google for the week"

Next up for Facebook, Google's money: Facebook is a "genuine phenomenon," and it's only going to grow more, says Kit Eaton at Fast Company. It won't overtake Google in search, so Google's "core business" is safe. But Facebook is going after Google's ad-placement cash cow, and "advertisers will begin to do the math and work out which site will get their ads in front of more eyeballs." "Facebook more popular than Google? let the ad wars begin"

Unless Facebook evolves, Google's safe: Facebook only gets the most eyeballs in one data vendor's ranking, says Mike Pearson in E-Commerce Times. But even if Facebook does overtake Google, search is worth much more to advertisers than status updates and personal photos. Facebook won't be able to "translate the hits into revenue" unless it creates a useful search function. "Facebook traffic: A whole lot of hustle but not much flow"

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