THE number of Irish people using website Facebook has doubled in 12 months, new figures show.
The social networking site, founded as a private network for students at Harvard University in the US in 2004, now has 400,000 regular users compared with just under half that amount in January last year.
Most users of the site are over 25 years of age and most are female, an analysis by a Cork-based consultancy shows.
Statistics compiled by Mulley Communications from Facebook's advertising system show that Facebook in Ireland has doubled in size in 12 months, going from just under 200,000 Irish users in January 2008 to 400,980 users in January 2009.
It has been a huge explosion, considering that in January 2007 just 7,000 users were registered in Ireland.
Damien Mulley, from Mulley Communications, said the user profile showed that older social networkers were choosing to use Facebook over alternative sites, including MySpace and Bebo.
"The most interesting thing from these stats has to be the age profile. Facebook is favoured by older people with 275,660 (68.9pc of users) aged 25 and above and 148,320 (36.9pc of users) aged 30 or older," he said. "This to me reflects the growing age profile of social networks and the internet itself in Ireland. While Bebo got the younger population interested in social networking, the adult population seem to be favouring Facebook based on this growth rate. Social networks are not just where the kids are hanging out online, it's for all ages now."
The figures also show that of the 387,580 users who registered their gender, 218,240 were female.
Of the 223,520 who revealed their relationship status, 80,060 said they were single, 75,960 were in a relationship, 14,560 were engaged and 52,820 were married.
Three-in-four users -- 301,140 (75.1pc) -- were aged 21 to 35 years old, while just 4.4pc (17,540) were under 18.