Facebook more popular than Google


Mark Zuckerberg faced a make-or-break year in 2010. From its first incarnation in 2004, Facebook had expanded effortlessly to a point where nearly half of the global online audience had visited the site but it was beginning to face a backlash from tech geeks, who accused founder Mark Zuckerberg of going too far in declaring the age of privacy over.

Flash forward to the start of 2011 and the outlook could hardly be more different. Bolstered by Facebook hitting the 500 million user milestone in July, a $450m (GBP290m) backing from Goldman Sachs and immortalised on film in Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network, Zuckerberg seems more confident, skilled and omnipotent than ever. And Facebook appears to have achieved the ultimate coup: threatening to unseat the mighty Google as the superpower of the web.

There are some things money can’t buy and, for Google, they are market-leading social media propositions. Despite its position as a technology superpower and with an estimated $33bn in the bank, it has largely failed to deliver a convincing consumer proposition for social networking.

YouTube, which Google owns, has a vast network that reached 30 million monthly users in Britain alone last October, according to comScore, yet has little coherent, constructive community. Any enthusiasm for Google Buzz evaporated in a cloud of privacy controversy, while its Orkut site may be a Brazilian favourite but has failed to gain ground in Google’s home market.

Google is very far from anything like a crisis but it has been slowly undermined by Facebook’s audacious development, the realisation of Zuckerberg’s plan to reconfigure the web through social navigation and Facebook hiring some of Google’s hottest talent.

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