Ahead of the Bell: Facebook holds big conference

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NEW YORK (AP) ? Facebook has made several changes to the site in recent weeks, from bigger photos to a real-time “ticker” of their friends’ latest activity on the right side of their home pages.

More changes are likely coming Thursday, when the company holds its annual f8 conference in San Francisco. The conference, for developers and businesses that build products around what Facebook calls the “social Web,” kicks off with a keynote from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The company has declined to comment on what it plans to announce. But at least part of the news is expected to center around new ways to get people to share content on Facebook and the broader Web, as the world’s largest online social network works to broaden its reach even further.

Last year, for example, Facebook introduced the now-ubiquitous “like” button that lets people share articles and other items they are reading. Analysts expect the company to continue to redefine what it means to be “social” on the Internet.

“The idea of a social network and what a social network is continues to evolve,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at research firm eMarketer. “First it was creating a profile and sending status updates to your friends. Facebook is (now) going toward helping companies be more social and helping consumers and users feel like they have a stronger connection to these…businesses, media and things they are interested in.”

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Online:

Live streaming of the f8 conference Thursday: http://on.fb.me/qPzd0t