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Digg Getting More Social

Sometime today, according to BusinessWeek, social news site Digg will launch a slew of new social networking features that will put the site in closer competition with services like Facebook and MySpace. The features will enable easier communication between diggers and allow them to form groups based around their interests. “This is really the first time that we have enabled communications between users,” Digg founder Kevin Rose told BusinessWeek.

The reason for the change, implies BusinessWeek’s Catherine Holahan, is that as Digg has expanded its reach beyond technology focused stories, its early users have complained that the main page has become diluted with news in topics that don’t matter to them. The new features will allow users to form connections and share stories with people that have common interests.

“Instead of submitting stories for review by the larger Digg community, users will be able to send — ‘shout’ in Digg terms — story links along with messages to particular Digg friends. Friends, or small groups of friends, also will be able to chat or discuss stories on their personal pages with posts to a message board, a feature akin to the ‘wall’ on Facebook.” — Catherine Holahan, BusinessWeek

Image from BusinessWeek.

Digg’s new profile pages will include expanded information about users. Users will be able to shares multiple photos — rather than just one small thumbnail avatar — lists of interests, expanded bio info, and links to blogs and social networking profiles. Like Facebook, users will have finely tuned privacy controls that will let them dictate who can see the information they share on their profiles.

As BusinessWeek notes, the new social features could be a boon for Microsoft, who signed a multi-year ad deal with Digg earlier this year. Users sharing more personal information means better targeting of ads and potentially higher ad rates. Digg hopes that the new features will also attract more registered users — currently only 15-20% of the site’s 20 million monthly unique users are registered.

Digg has a history of eliciting very passionate responses from its users when making changes to the site or enforcing rules. It will be interesting to see how users react to this latest round of changes to the site. To their credit, Digg has always realized that their site relies upon the happiness of its users and has a reputation of being responsive to their requests. To that end, BusinessWeek is also reporting that Digg plans to debut a long awaited Images section next month.

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