Sorry, Google: Facebook Tops In Web Site Visits

Facebook's heavily criticized redesigns and privacy feature changes apparently have done nothing to hurt the social networking site's growth. In fact, it's possible the media scrutiny and publicity may have actually helped Facebook which, according to Web metrics firm HitWise, has now surpassed Google in the category of site visits.

According to HitWise, Facebook reached what it called "an important milestone" for the week of March 13, when the social networking site became the most visited Web site in the U.S., edging out Google for the week. HitWise reported Facebook previously had reached the No. 1 rank for U.S. site traffic on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and a few other days. But Facebook had never kept the top spot for the full week until now. Comparatively, Facebook accounted for 7.07 percent of all U.S. Internet visits last week, while Google came in just below that number at 7.03 percent.

HitWise also reported that while Google's traffic has remained steady over the past year, Facebook's Web traffic has jumped 185 percent since the same week one year ago. As a result, it's reasonable to expect that Facebook's traffic will continue to grow and likely hold on to the title of most visited U.S. Web site for the foreseeable future.

HitWise's report today dispels any speculation that Facebook's altered privacy controls and frequent design tweaks of late had turned off users. Despite the fact that Facebook received a flood of criticism from users and was hit with a Federal Trade Commission complaint last December over the new privacy settings, the site appears to be as popular as ever.

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Meanwhile, the news is bad for Google, which hoped to challenge the growing popularity of both Facebook and Twitter with its recently launched Buzz social networking service, which has been critically panned and, like Facebook before it, savaged by privacy advocates. Google Buzz also led to a high-profile class-action lawsuit from users. With a larger base of Internet visits, Facebook may also be in a position to challenge Google's dominance in Web advertising revenue.