Facebook Plans Stripped-Down ‘Lite’ Version

Social networking giant Facebook has begun testing a trimmed-down version of its site that loads faster and is targeted at countries where broadband is limited.

“Facebook Lite” is similar to the site’s mobile version, which enables members to make comments, accept friend requests, post messages and view photos and status updates.

The site — currently open only to select members — is presently hosted at lite.facebook.com.

“We are currently testing a simplified alternative to Facebook.com that loads a specific set of features quickly and efficiently,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”

The slimmed-down version made its first public appearance last night in error, when Facebook mistakenly began wide distribution of invites to participate in testing. The company said it would continue limited testing of the Lite version, but not to all of its users.

“Last night, the test was temporarily exposed to a larger set of users by mistake,” the company said in a statement. “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.com as usual.”

The unexpected unveiling of Facebook Lite comes as the company continues working to find ways to monetize its vast user community — it last reported 250 million registered users — while continuing to expand services and features.

The news comes on the heels of the company’s acquisition of content-sharing service FriendFeed.

Facebook, which has long been contending with concerns over privacy and its use of user data, also moved in recent weeks to tighten up data-usage rules for third-parties who put ads in Facebook applications.

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