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US netizens are now spending more time on Facebook than on all of Google's sites combined, according to the latest data from online research outfit comScore.

As the AP reports, comScore says that US net users spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook, or about 9.9 per cent of their total web surfing. By comparison, they spent 39.8 million minutes on Google sites, or 9.6 per cent of their total time. This includes not only Google's search engine, its Gmail web-based email service, and other Google-branded sites but YouTube as well.

As Facebook usage continues to climb, Google is struggling to develop a successful social networking site of its own. Neither Orkut nor Buzz caught on the way the company had hoped, and according to reports, Google is now preparing a game-centric Facebook challenger dubbed Google Me. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is in discussions over the new service with Playdom Inc. (recently purchased by Disney), Electronic Arts's Playfish, and the Facebook-centric Zynga Game Network.

Presumably, Google is concerned about Facebook's ability not only to keep users on its site, but to target ads.

According to comScore, Facebook and Google are the two most popular sites in the US, while Yahoo! now ranks third, with users spending 37.7 million minutes on its site in August, or 9.1 per cent of their time.

A year ago, comScore research indicated that US netizens spends less than 5 per cent of their web time on Facebook and about the same on Google. Yahoo! was up at 12 per cent. ®

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