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The popular online hangout Facebook is sporting a new look to reflect changes in how its members communicate with each other and how they share photos and updates about their lives.
Central to the redesign, to be unveiled today, is an expanded Wall, the section of a member's personal profile page where friends can leave comments and photos. People will now be able to add items more easily, and the Wall will incorporate reports on a user's activities previously found on a user's "Mini-Feed."
The development comes as Facebook and rival MySpace from News Corp. vie to become the central hub of online communications. Both sites are reorganizing their layouts this summer to reduce clutter and make information easier to find.
Facebook, trying to avoid the type of privacy backlash that has accompanied major changes in the past, said it has been alerting users of the changes in recent weeks. The site first outlined the facelift in May and plans to let users start testing it this week. A complete switch won't occur for at least another week or two.
The changes stem from the growing comfort people have with sharing details about their personal lives more frequently and in smaller bursts &
such as on the "microblogging" site Twitter.
Instead of creating a full photo album or blog entry, Facebook users are apt to share just a single image or update the one-sentence status message on their profile, said Mark Slee, lead product manager at Facebook. On top of that, Facebook profiles are loaded with information generated from games and other applications that Facebook started letting outside developers write last year.
The Facebook redesign seeks to make these now-disparate pieces of information easier to find at a central location. Now the site will organize information into tabs to reduce clutter.
And users will get more control over what appears on their feeds, with the ability to add as well as delete individual items. Slee said no information about a user's online behavior that wasn't previously public would suddenly become posted to the Wall.
That is a sensitive subject at Facebook, which faced privacy criticisms when feeds first began, though now they are a staple of the site. Then last year a tracking tool called "Beacon" caught users off guard by broadcasting information about their shopping habits and activities at other Web sites. Facebook ultimately allowed users to turn Beacon off.
Facebook gets a facelift to help site's users share
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