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Facebook strips down to Lite site
Facebook is working on other translations of its Lite site
The world's biggest social networking site has launched a slimmed-down version for people with slow or poor internet connections.
Facebook has said the Lite site will be faster and simpler because it offers fewer services than the main site.
Initially it is meant to support users in developing countries and where bandwidth constraints make the current version too slow to use.
At the moment it is only available in India and the US.
The company said around 70% of its more than 250 million users were from outside America. Countries in Southeast Asia and Europe are seeing a massive increase in growth where fast internet connections are more common.
News that Facebook was testing the Lite site was first leaked in August.
The options on Facebook Lite are limited to letting users write on their wall, post photos and videos, view events and browse other people's profiles. There are no apps or special boxes.
"It appears, at a quick glance, to be a better site for Facebook newbies or for anyone who finds the current site overwhelming and noisy," said Rafe Needleman at technology website Cnet.
More than 70% of users are outside the United States
"The new layout feels almost Twitter-like."
Terence O'Brien at Switched.com gave the slimmed-down version of what he called "ol' blue" the thumbs-up because it "strips away distractions".
"The simple site loads noticeably faster, is easier to navigate, and is much easier on the eyes thanks to the lack of people sending you 'virtual booze' or asking you to join their 'vampire fraternity'.
"The new layout seems like a direct challenge to Twitter, which can attribute much of its success to is simplicity and portability," said Mr O'Brien.
Many industry watchers said they believed that even users with good internet connections might well flock to Facebook Lite because of its new look and ease of use.
"That is what some US users are planning to do," said Eric Eldon of InsideFacebook.com
"Indeed the reaction from US users has prompted Facebook to release it intentionally for US users, something it hadn't previously planned on doing."
Mr Eldon said he believed a "worldwide rollout doesn't seem too far away".
Fans of Facebook Lite have said it is like a return to the early days
Facebook has acknowledged this is a possibility in a statement on the site which said the firm was "working on translating Lite into other languages".
So far those who have posted comments on Facebook seem to like the company's new Lite approach.
"It's good to see Facebook listening to their users," wrote one user.
Another said: "Facebook Lite should be great for college campuses like mine that are hung up on bandwidth."
Having no third-party apps on the site also garnered a fair amount of support.
"The no-apps thing is killer. There's nothing about them I'll miss," noted one user, while another said: "Whatever you do, please, PLEASE do not allow the quizzes, games, or apps to ruin this pristine version of Facebook."
Anyone who switches to Facebook Lite and does not like it can switch back to the fuller version of the site.
10 Aug 09 | Arts & Culture
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