Something unusual happened last month. For the week ending March 13, 2010, Google wasn't the most visited website in the U.S. That week, Facebook reached the coveted #1 ranking. The market share of visits to Facebook.com increased 185% that week as compared to the same week in 2009, while visits to Google.com increased 9% during the same time frame. Together Facebook.com and Google.com accounted for 14% of all U.S. Internet visits during that week.
But Facebook.com receiving more visitors than Google.com wouldn't be news in Israel. As Ayala Tzoref reports in the Haaretz newspaper, Israelis spend more time on the Facebook site than on any other website.
"Facebook's head of strategy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa says that Israelis spend over one billion minutes in total on Facebook every month, making Israel's most popular site by a significant margin. Trevor Johnson is currently visiting Israel as guest of Channel 10 telelvision, which is joining forces with Facebook to promote and expand the social networking site in Israel. Johnson, in an interview with TheMarker, claims that the total time Israelis spend on Facebook is more than the time they spend on Google, Walla, and YouTube combined."
As a rabbi serving at a Jewish camp that employs dozens of visiting Israelis each summer, I was not surprised to learn of Facebook's overwhelming popularity in the Jewish state. In fact, in the camp's Multimedia Center I've noticed the Israeli counselors using Facebook to keep in touch with their friends and family back home in Israel rather than using the more traditional email messaging or even Skype, the Internet voice calling application. The social networking site's instant messaging/chat capabilities combined with the ability to create photo albums make Facebook the perfect tool for Israelis to keep in touch while they're out of the country.