Murdoch fumes as Facebook overtakes MySpace

MySpace owner brands Facebook as "flavour of the month" as it surpasses his social network

Barry Collins
23 Jun 2008

Facebook has overtaken rival social network MySpace for the first time - provoking an angry outburst from the man who paid $580m for MySpace only three years ago.

Facebook had 123m unique visitors in May, an increase of 162% on May 2007, according to the latest Comscore figures.

By contrast, MySpace drew 114.6m uniques, with visitors growing by only 5% since May 2007.

It's the first time Facebook has managed a significant lead over its chief rival, after the pair were almost level-pegging in Comscore's April figures.

The news hasn't gone down well with News Corp boss, Rupert Murdoch, whose company bought MySpace back in 2005. He claims Facebook has "done a great job of being flavour of the month the last six months of last year," but that Facebook isn't a real social network, claiming the site is "just a directory".

Murdoch has long been exasperated by the rise of Facebook. When asked last year whether sites such as MySpace were responsible for declining newspaper sales, he quipped: "I wish they were. They're all going to Facebook."

Whether Facebook can turn its success into profit is the big question. The privately-held company doesn't report financial figures, although Microsoft's 1.6% stake in the company valued it at $15 billion last year.

With $40 billion burning a hole in its pocket following the collapse of the Yahoo deal, Microsoft has been consistently linked with a takeover of Facebook, although CEO Steve Ballmer last week talked down the possibility of a deal. "People don't understand what they're talking about," he told The Financial Times. "At the end of the day, this is about the ad platform. This is not about just any one of the applications."

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