Google+ is now the second largest social network in the world in terms of monthly active users, overtaking Twitter for the first time, according to new data.
The data, from web benchmarking firm Global Web Index, indicates that Google+ had an estimated 343 million global monthly active users in December 2012.
Closely trailing Google+ is Google’s own YouTube in third place, followed by Twitter in fourth.
All three are trailing Facebook by a significant margin. According to the research, Facebook active users grew 33% to 693m in the fourth quarter of 2012. Facebook’s own figures suggest it actually hit 1 billion active monthly users in 2012.
Meanwhile, Google+ grew in terms of active usage by 27% to 343m users in Q4 2012.
It took Facebook almost six years to reach 300 million active monthly users, a milestone that Google+ has sailed past in under 18 months.
"2012 saw Facebook shrug off the potential for Facebook fatigue and saturation in a spectacular way with active users growing 33 percent," Global Web Index Consulting director Brett Petersen said in a statement. A staggering 51 percent of the global Internet population now actively uses Facebook on a monthly basis.
But no other social network has gained more active users in recent months than Twitter. "The fastest growing network in 2013 in terms of 'Active Usage' was Twitter, which grew 40 percent across our 31 markets," Petersen wrote.
Twenty-one percent of global Internet users now actively use Twitter, while another 21 percent actively use YouTube, and 25 percent actively use Google+.
Meanwhile, the growth of Facebook, Google+, and other global social-networking platforms was bad news for smaller sites. Many localized social-networking services like Germany's MeinVz, the Netherland's Hyves, and France's Copains d’Avant saw a dip in usage.
Local Chinese services saw the largest declines across the board, with the popular Tencent Weibo falling 57 percent.