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Facebook facing up to the future

Facebook invited over 100,000 users to comment on the site's redesigned features over the past three weeks

Social networking site Facebook today unveiled a range of new features aimed to simplify the way users navigate through member profiles to keep track of friends and associates. The changes come following a period of collaboration with tens of thousands of users, Reuters reports.

Three main amendments have been made to the interface design - none of which should require much adjustment from users. Site navigation has been simplified, 'My Messages' and 'My Shares' have been unified to form an 'Inbox' and the Network pages have been made more social.

"You can only see the networks you are in and the networks you would be able to join," Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, told Reuters.

The No. 2 US social networking site seems to have learnt the value of listening to its users. Some three weeks ago it launched the Facebook Sneak Preview group , allowing the community to view and give feedback on the proposed design changes. This attempt to include the community should help ease any backlash from users after today's changes.

Facebook sparked criticism from thousands of users last September following the sudden introduction of a new design that revealed more personal information about members than many wished. But, in a swift response to online protests, the site was able to ease the crisis - so successfully, in fact, that membership exploded to 18 million active users from 7.5 million in a matter of weeks.

Since then, visitor numbers have leapt 75 per cent, soaring to 24.8 million worldwide in February this year. Facebook now comes second only to colossal networking website MySpace , which had 98.5 million visitors during the same period.

Last month we reported that a group of US senators have been pushing forward plans to ban access to social networking sites in schools, after a rise in cases of children being attacked by people they have met via the internet.