Yesterday, news broke that MySpace, the one time crowned king of social networking, will be laying of 47% of its staff.  That means upwards of 500 employees may find themselves without a job.  Casualties of a battle that MySpace lost years ago.  Sure, the NewsCorp powered spin machine is in full effect saying that thanks to the site’s recent refocus and redesign they have streamlined their operations and are doing just fine, but no one is really buying that.  Mainly because nothing says “I’m doing just fine” quite like firing half of your staff.

But the writing was on the wall long before their hip new redesign.  It seems like no one at MySpace got the memo that no one uses their site anymore.  And that’s all thanks to Time’s Person of the Year: Mark Zuckerberg

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Zuckerberg (and really, after a semi-biographical hit movie and the aforementioned Time Magazine cover, you probably should), you’re definitely familiar with his product.  You’re probably mildly obsessed with it as well.

With more than 500 million active users, Facebook is nothing less than THE most important and socially relevant communication tool of the last decade.  Forget about your iPhone, forget about your email account, and definitely forget about your MySpace account.  Mark Zuckerberg and his team have not only changed the world, they’ve secured their position as the industry leader that will CONTINUE to change the world for the foreseeable future.

If you want to know just how unconcerned Mr. Zuckerberg is about alleged competition, look no further than his financial support of the anti-Facebook social networking site Diaspora.

In a world where every piece of technology you invest in is out of date two days later, it’s safe to say that Facebook is here to stay.  They’ve grown too large to just disappear.  So if you’re looking for the best place to network online, Facebook is the perfect starting point.  Sure there are other niche sites that are well worth your time (they will be discussed in detail as this column continues).  But for better or worse, Facebook is the undisputed king of social networking.  Not even Google has been able to topple them.

Though it’s entirely possible, that someone might turn Facebook into a MySpace-sized dinosaur, it is equally likely (if not more so) that they are here to stay.  They have built a company infrastructure that will be able to grow and adapt to their audience’s needs.  Conversely, their audience has proven that they’re invested enough to stick with them through a series of very public privacy concerns.  If major issues like that aren’t enough to shake Facebook’s base, it seems quite clear that they have filled the needs of their audience so well that no matter what they do, people will stick around.  Of course there will be some vocal complaining – it’s the internet, you should expect no less – but people will all but forget about it after a week when they get sucked back in to all the features the site provides.

An artist's rendition of what a map of the world's online communities would look like based on size. How many have you used?

So how many of you are active Facebook users?  What other sites do you use for networking and staying in touch with friends and contacts?  Do you think there’s anything on the horizon that can put a dent into Facebook’s global empire?

Shawn Abraham is SPS’ Virtual Campus Manager, which means he gets to have a lot of fun building an online community for the school.  He also has a lot of fun reading books about zombies.  These two things rarely intersect.