Trend: Social Networking passes Porn

Everyone is social. Not everyone is into porn.

An interesting statistic from this week’s print version of The Economist: social networking sites will soon overtake porn as the most visited properties on the Web in the U.S.

Economist

This Hitwise data from February suggests that, FOR THE FIRST TIME!, porn may fall to #2 on the rankings list to the growth of social sites like MySpace and Facebook.

There are a couple interesting tidbits about this:

  1. Many sites that would be considered porn (such as AdultFriendFinder) are definitely social in nature. My guess is that these were included in the porn stats.
  2. It’s more likely that the change in percentage is due more to the insane growth of social networks and not the drop off of porn.
  3. The article also mentions an interesting tidbit about porn…that there’s a lot going on in peer-to-peer networks, so much of what could be counted as porn wasn’t.
  4. The article is bare on details…and I couldn’t dig up the original Hitwise data…as the Hitwise site is opaque. (side note: why aren’t there infographics out the wazzoo on the Hitwise site? Infographics are great link bait, because they distill lots of data into a quick read…Tufte, anyone?)
  5. Heather Hopkins of Hitwise blogged about the same data showing that Search passed porn in the U.K.

This is just further fuel for the fire that social networking has gone mainstream and is here to stay.

But what now? Where are we headed?

Well, the growth of social networks is amazing, but my guess is that designers are working to integrate social features into so-called “regular” sites as much as they are building the next MySpace. It’s becoming clear that MySpace and Facebook are outliers, and their success will probably not be duplicated by more than one or two sites every few years. That makes it a poor investment to try to replicate their success. What is more likely is to take an existing application model that already works for people and to add social features to it, gradually, making it sociable.

I’ve heard lots of “we’re going to make the MySpace of X” discussions, supporting this idea of taking lessons from the social networking sites and adding them where appropriate to existing applications.

Published: April 24th, 2007

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