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US online activity data for April 2009 from comScore reveals that swine-flu concerns caused a surge in web visits to the Centers for Disease Control’s website (CDC.gov), and that the Social Networking category had a record month, fueled by increases in visits to Twitter and Facebook.

comScore also reported that the Tax category? experienced strong growth, suggesting that Americans were procrastinating filing their taxes as the April 15 deadline approached.

Swine Flu Spurs Searches for Information

News of the swine flu outbreak prompted many concerned Americans to turn online in search of information about prevention, detection and treatment of the virus. Data revealed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s site, CDC.gov, witnessed a 142% increase, to 5.7 million visitors, making it the top gaining property in April.

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SocNets Racks up Record Visitation

The Social Networking category experienced a record month, growing 12% to nearly 140 million visitors, or nearly three-quarters of the US online population. MySpace Sites led the category with 71 million visitors, followed by Facebook.com with 67.5 million visitors, an increase of 10% from March 2009.

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Twitter.com, now the third-ranked social networking site, experienced another explosive
month of visitor growth, jumping 83% to 17 million visitors, comScore said.

Home Improvement Gains Steam

Many Americans sought information related to their homes in April with the Real Estate category posting a 10% increase to 48.4 million visitors. In addition, the Community – Home category gained 10%, to nearly 30 million visitors.

Move Network led as the most visited real estate site attracting 13.2 million visitors (up 88% vs. March), followed by Yahoo Real Estate with 6.8 million visitors (up 11%), and AOL Real Estate with 3.6 million visitors (up 15 %).

The start of spring led many Americans to consider home repairs and remodeling, driving traffic to the Community – Home category, reported comScore. About.com Home & Garden led the category with nearly 4 million visitors (up 16%), followed by AOL Home with 3.8 million visitors (up 29%) and Better Homes & Gardens Network with 3.8 million visitors (up 13% ).

Top 50 Properties

Google Sites continues to lead as the most visited property in April, with more than 155 million visitors, followed by Yahoo Sites with 149 million visitors, and Microsoft Sites with 126.5 million visitors.

Facebook.com climbed one spot in the ranking to #8 with 67.5 million visitors.

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Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking

Platform-A led again led the April Ad Focus ranking, reaching 91% of the nearly 193 million Americans online. According to comScore’s numbers, the Yahoo Network ranked second, reaching 87%, while Google Ad Network ranked third with an 85% reach.

Specific Media moved up seven spots to #5 reaching 82%, while FOX Audience Network climbed three positions to #6, reaching 77% of Americans online.

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About the data: comScore’s analysis of US consumer activity at the top online properties for April 2009, is based on data from its Media Metrix service.

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