Twitter may have surpassed half a billion members, according to new research outed this week.

Figures from GlobalWebIndex suggest that at the end of 2012, the microblog site had notched up a whopping 485 million members, up from 402 million just six months ago.

By its estimates, GWI said that the amount of people with Twitter account now make up one third of the active global internet population.

In terms of active users, the microblog now apparently has 288 million active users who're making use of Twitter in the last month. That's up 40 per cent in the last 6 months alone.

Hunting down Facebook

Perhaps more interesting than the bare usage and account figures is the news of Twitter's irrepressible growth.

The 40 per cent leap in active users now outstrips progress made by Facebook, which reportedly grew 33 per cent to 693 million active users during the same period.

"An incredible 21 percent of the global internet population now use Twitter actively on a monthly basis. That marks a whopping growth rate in active users of 714 percent since July 2009," GWI wrote on its official blog.

Is Twitter on the path to hunting down Facebook? Recent reports in the UK suggested that the company had lost 600,000 users in the UK in December last year would suggest that it is.

Earlier this week, GWI revealed that Google+ is now up to 343 million active users to move into second place for social networks in terms of active users. Are we the only ones who find those particular figures a little less credible?

Via Telegraph