ComScore: Facebook’s May US Traffic Nears Record… for Number of New Users

Would the massive privacy outcry around Facebook’s late April changes convince more people to stop using the site? Facebook itself has said that it has not seen any significant changes — and now the first of the third-party measurement firms has its own data out on Facebook traffic for the month.

ComScore shows, via TechCrunch, that Facebook reached 130 million monthly unique visitors across the United States in May, an increase of 8.6 million (the third largest increase it has ever recorded for Facebook). The firm already showed a strong spring for Facebook, with the company adding 5.5 million new users in April.

Other analytics services have been showing similar results, although most have not reported May stats yet. Hitwise saw Facebook gaining engagement numbers during the month. Quantcast, which breaks data out to within weeks of each month, showed an uptick in Facebook traffic at the end of April.

But why all the growth in May? The outcry centered around how Facebook asked users to make interests more public, and how some of its products shared more general information with third parties.

The criticism did not visibly produce many people quitting, nor did it ongoing users choosing to share less (although the latter is harder to measure). Why not? Maybe the mostly-negative media attention actually attracted more users to the site? There may be no such thing as bad publicity, as the saying goes, but we suspect that the reason is probably simpler. Facebook is getting ongoing benefits of network effects — users getting friends to join — and that likely accounts for a big portion of the growth, as we’ve seen in past month. And on top of that, the features that Facebook launched in late April, such as the Like Button, could be helping to drive the site’s growth. While some critiques of Facebook’s privacy changes have been fair, the company appears to have done well in the eyes of most of its existing and new users.

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