The use of social networking sites worldwide has grown substantially in the past year, with some sites seeing total visits increase as much as 270 per cent, according to a study released Tuesday by Internet measurement company ComScore.

MySpace, for example, drew more than 114 million global visitors in June 2007, a 72 per cent increase over the past year, ComScore noted. Facebook, which in September stopped limiting access only to college or university students or workers, experienced a 270 per cent increase in worldwide visitors over the past year, according to the study.

Bebo, a popular social networking site in the United Kingdom, experienced 172 per cent growth, with 18 million visitors in June 2007. Tagged, a social networking site aimed at teenagers, grew 774 percent over the past year, attracting 13 million visitors in June.

"Literally hundreds of millions of people around the world are visiting social networking sites each month and many are doing so on a daily basis," said Bob Ivins, ComScore executive vice president of international markets in a statement. "It would appear that social networking is not a fad but rather an activity that is being woven into the very fabric of the global Internet."

The study also showed that some resonate more strongly in particular regions. MySpace and Facebook, for example, both pull in about two-thirds of their audiences from North America, while 63 per cent of Bebo users hail from Europe.

Orkut, Google's social networking site, draws 49 per cent of its audience from Latin America, while 89 per cent of Friendster visitors come from the Asia Pacific region.