Facebook bungles first 'Lite' site user test

Social network discloses that it's 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 its uber popular Facebook social networking site.

In an e-mail response to queries from Computerworld, a Facebook representative 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.

The company called Facebook Lite a fast-loading, easy-to-use version of its social network that's designed for people who are either new to social networking or live in areas 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 representative. "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 in recent days it has made several moves to solidify its position.

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 company 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% year over year, making it easily the most popular social networking site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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