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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 25, 2010

Browse Web with your Facebook pals

By Jessica Guynn
Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO In a move that will intensify competition with Internet search giant Google Inc., Facebook Inc. unveiled a series of new features last week designed to turn the Web into a place that connects people, not pages.

While signed into Facebook, users will be able to see their friends' comments flowing from other websites as their buddies read news articles, shop or listen to songs by their favorite artists. Any website can make this option available to its visitors by installing a "like" button that lets users share news, music, movies or other content with their friends on and off Facebook.

With more than 400 million users, Facebook is already one of the Web's most popular destinations. Now it's aiming to spread its digital empire by making it easier for users to take their friends with them as they browse the rest of the Web.

The idea is for Facebook to deliver a more personalized experience on Facebook and elsewhere, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday. He was speaking at a convention hall in San Francisco before 1,500 software developers who build applications for Facebook, which has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

Clad in blue jeans and black hoodie, Zuckerberg made the case that the Web is at a turning point where more people are navigating using their real identity and bringing along their friends. They will be guided on that journey not by a search engine stringing together static pages but by their connections and interests, he said.

"We are building towards a Web where the default is social," he said.

The new features could change how people experience the Web but also could raise privacy concerns.

Last year, Facebook unveiled Facebook Connect, which let people use their Facebook log-ins to sign in to other websites. Now when users are logged into Facebook, they will be able to see websites tailored to their interests and relationships. A music site such as Pandora will play songs from bands that friends are following while a news site such as CNN.com will show articles they read or commented on.