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Facebook Gives MySpace a Bronx Cheer

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Bigger than France. How passe. Facebook is now bigger than MySpace.

Sort of.

New data from researcher comScore found that Facebook attracted 222 million visitors in December, up 10.8% over November's total. More interesting: 22% of all Internet surfers visited Facebook last month, confirming its role as an emerging substitute for more than just Christmas cards.

MySpace didn't fare as well, adding 4 million new users globally during December. The site is now home to 125 million accounts worldwide. Impressive, but also well below Facebook's total population, which now appears to be bigger than France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined.

Anyone else picturing News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) chief Rupert Murdoch steaming over stats like this? Murdoch's empire bid $12 a share -- or $580 million -- for MySpace's parent company, Intermix, in 2005, only to see Facebook emerge and attract a multibillion-dollar valuation after a $280 million investment by Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) .

For its part, MySpace issued a sanguine response to blogger TechCrunch, which reported comScore's findings. Quoting:

MySpace continues to dominate the U.S. market -- where the bulk of online advertising revenues reside -- both in terms of monetization and user engagement with more than 76 million unique users and a 40% spike in engagement year over year.

The company also said that international revenues grew 35% year over year. Fair points, all. For as fast as Facebook's user population is growing, it still trails MySpace in the U.S. Research further suggests that revenue growth isn't keeping pace with user growth.

We also know that key employees have left and that management is no longer allowing staff to sell stock. And yet Facebook is growing massively even as others struggle to be more social. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) kicked its Kickstart network to the curb in December, for example.

Facebook is also like (NYSE: CRM  ) in that it's among the few Silicon Valley firms hiring right now. Silicon Alley Insider reports that the company's recruiters are pursuing recent Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) cast-offs.

Facebook, in other words, is still one of the world's great growth stories. A story that just got a lot more interesting.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Fool's disclosure policy likes sweet tea in the evenings.

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