Facebook users get extra wrinkles

The social network supposedly had more UK visitors last month than all of Microsoft's websites - and interestingly, the average age has risen.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 02 Aug 2011

Who says Facebook is starting to lose its touch? New figures suggest that the social network got a record 26.8m UK visitors last month – more than all of Microsoft’s websites combined. Impressive stuff - albeit a bit confusing, given that alternative figures released a couple of weeks ago claimed that the website’s stratospheric growth was beginning to tail off. And for once, it's Google not Facebook that's attracting negative headlines about privacy...

According to this latest set of data, from online research group UKOM/Nielsen, last month's growth puts Facebook second only to Google in popularity among UK web users. Apparently, the surge was driven by a sudden rise in sign-ups from the over-50s. It's not actually that surprising: the average age among Facebook users is said to be about 38. But judging by the upward trajectory, it’s surely mere months before MT’s septuagenarian grandmother discovers the site. Indeed, here's further proof that senior citizens and social networking were made for each other: the same survey also found that the number of female pensioners on Twitter doubled last month.

This might give them some pause for thought, however: according to Google, during the final six months of 2010 it received 14,201 requests from governments in 26 developed countries for it to disclose private information about its users. Apparently, Google has decided to release the figures as part of an attempt to highlight state censorship (read: ‘it’s not our fault, the government(s) made us do it’). With 1,162 requests, the UK comes a respectable fourth in the list of countries (although Google says complied with just 72) – while the US’ 4,601 requests puts it on top.

During the same period, the Office of Fair Trading was busy too: apparently, it asked for 93,360 fraudulent Google Adwords to be removed because they linked to dodgy websites. Sadly, it probably isn’t the end of the line for the scammers, though. With its new army of elderly users, maybe Twitter will be the next frontline in the cyber-crime war…

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