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Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: makes up 6 percent of all U.S. Internet visits, according to web research firm Hitwise. And it’s leaving Twitter in the dust.

Hitwise general manager of global research, Bill Tancer, wrote:

I believe this figure confirms our original hypothesis of Twitter-stall due to a drop in new users. As Facebook continues to grow, its user-base across Mosaic types shows that its user-base is becoming ubiquitous. Twitter by contrast was showing greater coverage amongst types earlier in its growth phase. Since Twitter’s decline in July, the number of over-indexing has narrowed significantly, indicating that early growth may have been the result of significant trail behavior leading up to this summer.

twitter1’s traffic has not only put on the brakes, but it’s starting to take a dip, according to Hitwise data.

Now, there are reasons to exercise a bit of skepticism here — web traffic is not a great measure of whether Twitter’s overall growth is slowing or even reversing. About 80 percent of users do not access Twitter through the Web site, but instead through other clients, according to TwitStat. So this could mean either that: A) Twitter is still growing but is seeing a greater share of its users turn to outside clients, or B) it is genuinely slowing.

In fact, here’s what Twitter co-founder Ev Williams had to say on the subject at last week’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. (The video below should skip ahead to his answer, so you won’t have to watch all 36 minutes unless you want to):

“It’s growing in some areas and slowing in others. We’re seeing growth internationally and in mobile. [Traffic] is not a very good gauge. Our U.S. traffic has probably slowed temporarily. There are some things we’re launching that will pick that back up.”

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