Facebook appears to be upping the ante against Twitter with the launch of Facebook Lite, a simplified version of the site, which provides a stream of user updates and looks similar to the microblogging service
The social network has invited a select group of its users to test the new stripped-down version of the site while it is in beta phase. Some industry pundits believe Facebook is rolling out ‘Lite’ to compete more closely with Twitter’s real-time news and search capabilities.
However, according to technology blog TechCrunch, the development is more focussed at this stage on providing a simpler version of the site so it will work better in countries where bandwidth is limited and on mobile phones, where downloads are slower than broadband.
It is also expected to use smaller pictures and lower-resolution videos in order to speed up download of Facebook pages.
Facebook told TechCrunch that the service is currently being tested in India, with plans to roll it out first across Russia and China.
The first screen shots of Facebook Lite bear a striking resemblance to the Twitter service, with a linear stream of friends’ status updates dominating the page.
The service is also expected to have a left-hand navigation bar with four main categories: Friends, Wall, Info and Photos & Videos.
Hacker News has seen some screen shots of Facebook Lite. However, the Indian users who were selected to test the new service were left confused by the disappearance of the initial invitation from their homepages.
The selected few were sent the following message: “You have been selected as a beta tester for Facebook Lite!
“We are building a faster, simpler version of Facebook that we call Facebook Lite. It’s not finished yet and we have plenty of kinks to work out, but we would love to get your feedback on what we have built so far.
Check out Facebook Lite now at http://lite.facebook.com.”
However, the test link web address no longer works and automatically redirects back to the main Facebook site. The social network told TechCrunch that this is because it was a mistake to roll out the test site as soon as it did.
Facebook were unavailable for comment.
The development is being seen by some as the latest in a series of moves from Facebook to take on Twitter. Earlier this week it acquired Friendfeed for $50 million, an American based social network aggregator, and has also recently rolled out real-time search functionality. (Via Telegraph)