As Facebook continues its experiments to make sharing more efficient, the company is now testing a “faster, simpler version of Facebook” called Facebook Lite. Facebook Lite is now live at lite.facebook.com for those users included in the beta test, but Facebook accidentally showed the beta test invite to more users than are actually in the test earlier this evening. Facebook says it is running the test primarily 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.”
Users who are part of the beta test are seeing what could be described as a more “FriendFeed-esque” version of Facebook. The stream appears to be reduced to just status updates, likes, and comments – no activity stories, application stories, or embedded content appear. In addition, profile page tabs have been moved to the left side of the page, all basic info and small profile boxes have been removed, and the publisher is not open by default.
Here’s how the profile page looks in Facebook Lite:
When asked about its plans for Facebook Lite, a Facebook spokesperson told us:
We are currently testing a simplified alternative to Facebook.com that loads a specific set of features quickly and efficiently. Similar to the Facebook experience you get on your mobile phones, Facebook “Lite” is a fast-loading, simplified version of Facebook that enables people to make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people’s Walls, and look at photos and Status updates. 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.
This evening, the test was temporarily exposed to a larger set of users by mistake. 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.
Overall, it makes sense that Facebook would be testing simpler site designs, specifically for users in countries where speed matters due to bandwidth constraints. However, the accidental over-exposure of the beta invite did cause some confusion amongst users this evening.