, the social networking phenomenon, ranked as the top U.S web site last week, the Internet tracking site Hitwise stated Tuesday.

The announcement gives the site more visits than Yahoo!'s popular portal site, or Google's search engine. For the week ending July 8, the website accounted for 4.46 percent of all U.S internet visits, rating it higher than the the previous most popular sites for the first time.

The fact that MySpace was virtually unknown by the mainstream Internet users two years ago, said Bill Tancer, general manager of Global Research at Hitwise. The fact that the site now claims the top place shows demonstrates how hyper-competitive the Internet really is.' was purchased by Ruport Murdoch's News Corp. last year for $580 million. The site builds on the popular social networking scene, allowing its users to create custom sites featuring music, video, and pictures.

MySpace captured nearly 80 percent of visits to online social networking sites, up from 76 percent in April. A distant second was FaceBook at 7.6 percent.

"Social networking sites are the reality television of the Internet,' said Jon Gibs, senior director of media, Nielsen//NetRatings, another leading internet market researcher.

"The content is relatively inexpensive for publishers to produce, and social networking is not a fad that will disappear. If anything, it will become more ingrained in mainstream sites, just as reality TV programming has become ubiquitous in network programming,' Gibs continued

Hitwise does not provide figures for the number of unique visitors to a site, however Nielsen//Netratings reported that the site had nearly 40 million unique visitors in April.