1 billion Web users and counting

The Internet last month passed a major milestone.

The number of worldwide Internet users passed the 1 billion mark for the first time in December, according to online researcher ComScore Inc.

With about 18 per cent of total global Internet users, China had the largest online audience with 180 million Internet users in December, ComScore said. Ironically, China remains one of the foremost perpetrators of Internet censorship.

The United States came in second with 163,300 users or a share of 16.2 per cent, while Japan housed the third largest online audience 59,993 users or 6 per cent of the worldwide total in the month. Germany came in fourth with 3.7 per cent of Internet users and the U.K. was fifth with 3.6 per cent.

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“Surpassing one billion global users is a significant landmark in the history of the Internet,” said Magid Abraham, president and CEO of ComScore, in a statement.

“It is a monument to the increasingly unified global community in which we live and reminds us that the world truly is becoming more flat. The second billion will be online before we know it, and the third billion will arrive even faster than that, until we have a truly global network of interconnected people and ideas that transcend borders and cultural boundaries.”

Late last week, ComScore noted that the pioneer of the social networking phenomenon had been totally overshadowed as Facebook Inc. recorded almost double the number of global visitors in December than longtime leader MySpace.com Inc.

Facebook, had almost 222 million unique visitors last month, while MySpace came in at 125 million, according to ComScore. That’s a dramatic change since the race for unique visitors was a near dead heat in April 2008.

According to ComScore’s report, Facebook is extremely popular, though not the most popular of all online destinations.

The Google family of sites led all online properties in December with 777.9 million visitors, ComScore reported. Microsoft was next with 647.9 million visitors followed by the Yahoo sites with 562.6 million visitors and Facebook with 222 million visitors. ComScore noted that Facebook showed 127 per cent growth in the past year.


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