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Social Network users take a break in January

Facebook and Myspace have both suffered a slight dip in UK users with a drop of 5 percent between December and January, according to data released by Nielsen Online (opens in new tab).

Before everybody starts to panic, just bear in mind that it is the first time in 18 months that Facebook has been less visited than the previous month. In December, 8.9m UK unique visitors browsed the website, compared to 8.5m in January.

Facebook (opens in new tab) is still 7 times bigger than it was one year ago though and its performance, even as UK's biggest social networking website, is much better than the competition - Myspace's audience shrunk by a whopping 9 percent to 5m unique visitors.

The number of people joining social networking websites appears to have tailed off and Alex Burmaster, European internet analyst at Nielsen Online, thinks that the big players are getting new users from their competition rather than from non social networking users.

"However, real growth potential lies in the niche networks, those based on a particular lifestyle or interest, such as travel, music, wealth or business.", Burmaster added.

Behind the two big social networking players, Bebo and Piczo have both registered respectable growths with more than 50 percent year on year growth.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.