Facebook bungles first 'Lite' site user test

Social network discloses that its building a simplified, quick-loading version of Facebook

In the midst of a beta test gone wrong, Facebook Inc. today acknowledged that it's trying out Facebook Lite -- a simplified version of the uber popular Facebook social networking site.

In an e-mail response to queries from Computerworld , A Facebook spokesperson said the company had invited way too many users to start testing the new system yesterday. With the rush of traffic, the site crashed, leaving the testers with nothing more than a broken link.

Facebook called the the new bare-bones version a fast-loading, easy-to-use version of the social network that's designed for people either new to social networking or in an area with limited broadband access.

"We are currently testing a simplified alternative to Facebook.com that loads a specific set of features quickly and efficiently," said the spokesperson. "Similar to the Facebook experience you get on your mobile phones, Facebook Lite ... enables people to make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people's Walls, and look at photos and status updates."

Facebook took the market share lead in the social networking business earlier this year, and has made several moves in recent days it hopes can help it stay there.

Earlier this week, the five-year-old company added real-time feed search to its site and announced that it had agreed to buy real-time feed aggregator FriendFeed Inc.

Analysts speculate that both moves show that Facebook is looking to become a social networking hub where users can go to see posts, photos and tweets from all of their favorite sites.

The social networking site is riding high this year. Facebook recently captured its 250 millionth user, and in June the Nielsen Co. reported that Facebook use had grown 700 per cent year-over-year, making it easily the most popular social networking site.

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