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Facebook’s New Role: News Site

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Facebook, the news site? Hitwise runs the numbers and determines that the social network is now the fourth biggest source of visits to news and media sites, after Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and MSN, accounting for 3.52 percent of all “upstream visits.” That’s up from under 1.5 percent just a year ago–in line with the site’s big jump in membership.

It’s possible, though, that even if Facebook’s overall growth slows, its role as a news site will continue to take off. That’s in part because only now does Facebook seem intent on pitching itself as a place where users can catch up on the news. In a blog post just last week, Facebook’s Malorie Lucich hyped how the social network could be a “personalized news channel,” complete with both updates from friends as well as from news organizations with Facebook pages, and urged users to add a “news filter” to their home page feeds.

How Facebook stands up to Google News as a source of traffic to news sites: