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The Graying of Social Networking Sites

Mark Marich

Facebook, MySpace, and many other social networking websites got their starts as places for college students and other youth to interact online. Today, as a new Pew Internet and American Life report shows, online social networks are regular part of the online experience for all of us.

The study, "Adults and Social Network Websites," shows that the share of adults with a profile on an online social network has quadrupled in the past four years. In 2005, only 8% of adults had such profiles compared to 35% today. Because adults make up a larger part of the population, this share means that adults are now the primary users of online social networks.

MySpace is far-and-away the leader for adults with 50% of that demographic's users. While Facebook currently sits at 22%, my non-data-supported guess (based merely on old friends popping up daily) is that it will narrow that gap before too long.

Given that 89% of all adult users joined these types of sites to stay in touch with friends, it isn't surprising that LinkedIn is in a distant third at 6%. It is, however, the site of choice for those of us fostering business or professional networks. Sixty-seven percent of LinkedIn users use it to 'Make new business or professional contacts'.

The percentage of users who use LinkedIn to flirt? Zero. Zip. Zilch. I suppose that isn't a big surprise either. 

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