Facebook Lite launched for developing countries

Facebook has started testing a new, simplified service aimed at countries where internet bandwidth is limited.

The new system, named Facebook Lite, focuses primarily on messaging and user updates and is being seen as part of Facebook's attempts to combat the threat of popular micro-blogging site Twitter.

The stripped-down service is intended to speed up the process of downloading and viewing the social networking site, particularly on mobile phones or in countries with limited broadband internet connections.

A number of Facebook users have been invited to test the new service, which the company said was still in the trial stage and had not been launched worldwide.

In a statement, Facebook said: "We are currently testing a simplified alternative to Facebook.com that loads a specific set of features quickly and efficiently.

"Similar to the Facebook experience you get on your mobile phones, Facebook 'Lite' is a fast-loading, simplified version of Facebook that enables people to make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people's Walls, and look at photos and status updates.

"We are currently testing Facebook Lite in countries where we are seeing lots of new users coming to Facebook for the first time and are looking to start off with a more simple experience."

Facebook told leading technology blog TechCrunch that the service is currently being tested in India, with plans to roll it out first across Russia and China.

The first screen shots of Facebook Lite appear to resemble the Twitter service, with a stream of friends’ status updates dominating the page. Twitter has gained many millions of users, particularly in the US and Europe, with its real-time news and search capabilities.

According to Facebook, a test invitation was sent to a larger number of users by mistake. This sparked a flurry of excitement on the web as people began trying to sign up to the service without success.

A Facebook spokesman said: "We have not opened up access to lite.facebook.com to all users at this time. People who are not part of the test and are trying to access 'Lite' will be directed to Facebook.comas usual."

Earlier this week Facebook, the world's largest social networking site with more than 250 millions registered users, bought FriendFeed, an up-and-coming web service, in a sign that it plans to extend its lead over rivals such as Twitter.

FriendFeed allows users to see what their friends are posting on different social media sites in a single feed. The acquisition is likely to boost Facebook's move into instant, real-time updates.

Source: Times Online

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