Facebook slims down with new 'Lite' version

Social network also adds another Twitter-like feature -- enhanced tagging

Facebook Inc. yesterday rolled at a new svelte version of its social network that sheds some of the heavy apps running in the primary version.

Facebook Lite is aimed at users with slow Internet connections or who are new to the social networking scene, the company said.

The unveiling comes a month after Facebook had bungled its first attempt at a Facebook Lite beta test of the new offering by inviting far too many users. The initial rush of traffic quickly crashed the site, leaving testers with nothing more than a broken link.

Those problems were eventually solved, the software was successfully beta tested and now seems to be well on track.

The company said that Facebook Lite is designed to let users load a specific, limited set of features quickly and efficiently. The experience is similar to that of using Facebook on a mobile phone, where users can make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people's Walls, and look at photos and status updates.

Facebook Lite eliminates the social network's chat window, animation capabilities and the update tab, the company said.

The social networking company also announced yesterday that users can now tag people in status updates and posts, similar to Twitter's enhanced tagging feature.

"People often update their status to reflect their thoughts and feelings, or to mention things they feel like sharing. Sometimes that includes referencing friends, groups or even events they are attending," wrote Tom Occhino, a Facebook engineer, in a blog post. "Now, when you are writing a status update and want to add a friend's name to something you are posting, just include the '@' symbol beforehand. As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections."

This isn't the first time that Facebook has added Twitter-like features.

In March, Facebook redesigned its services to be much more like those on the microblogging site.

The redesign allowed the updating of public profiles to let users share their information with an unlimited number of friends. The updates, according to Facebook, can "be brief messages" similar to Tweets, or longer ones that include photos and videos. The new Facebook setup also enables businesses, organizations or even celebrities to blast out information to customers, members or fans.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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