Yahoo's latest facelift will include a Facebook touchup.
As part of changes rolling out this week, Yahoo will import personal updates from Facebook's social network for users who want a bridge between two of the world's most popular websites. The Facebook link will need to be turned on by each Yahoo user.
The personal updates, known as a "news feed" in Facebook's parlance, will be available throughout Yahoo's website, including its front page and e-mail service. Other tools will empower people to automatically let their Facebook friends know what they are doing and saying on Yahoo services such as its photo-sharing site, Flickr.
The additional tie-ins follow through on a makeover that Yahoo announced late last year in an effort to make its website more compelling.
Although Yahoo still commands a worldwide Internet audience of nearly 600 million, people have been hanging around for progressively shorter periods during the past few years. One of the reasons is because people increasingly congregate on Facebook to share photos, video clips and music, discuss current events and bond with their families and friends.
Sunnyvale-base Yahoo is betting that more of its visitors will stay on its website if they can simultaneously monitor what's happening on Facebook. Keeping people on its site longer would give Yahoo more opportunities to sell online ads and revive its revenue growth after an extended slump that has sapped its earnings power and stock price.
Connecting with Facebook is just the first step in Yahoo's attempt to establish its website as a social hub. Later this summer, Yahoo intends to import personal updates posted on Twitter's short-messaging service. And by the end of the year, Yahoo will begin featuring widely played Internet games such as "Farmville," "Mafia Wars" and "Fishville," made by Zynga.
The increased emphasis on so-called "social media" could make Yahoo more susceptible to the privacy backlashes that have plagued Facebook in recent years. Yahoo is trying to ensure people don't inadvertently share any sensitive information by simplifying its privacy controls and urging visitors to review their settings.
As part of that process, Yahoo's identify control center has been renamed "Yahoo Pulse." It had been called Yahoo Profiles since its October 2008 debut.
The Facebook alliance is just the latest example of Yahoo's growing reliance on partnerships since the company hired Silicon Valley veteran Carol Bartz 17 months ago.
Yahoo's search engine is in the process of adopting Microsoft Corp.'s technology. And the company recently decided to rely on IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s Match.com as its online dating service. Bartz is turning to outsiders to lower Yahoo's overhead and sharpen its focus on its strengths in online news, sports, finance, entertainment and e-mail.