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Huffington Post, Facebook sync up on social news

In a rare official partnership for the social network, Facebook Connect comes to the Huffington Post to fuel its new HuffPost Social News service.

Facebook has partnered with liberal news outlet The Huffington Post in an officially sanctioned implementation of its Facebook Connect product.

Called HuffPost Social News, the new site aggregates Huffington Post stories that a given user's Facebook friends have recommended or commented on, and shares the user's Huffington Post activity on their Facebook profiles in turn.

It's a concept fairly similar to TimesPeople, the sharing service that The New York Times launched last year.

"Our goal is to make HuffPost Social News the go-to place for Facebook users to share news--both the stories they love and the stories they hate--with friends," Eric Hippeau, Huffington Post's still-new CEO, said in a release. "It should also appeal to marketers interested in reaching passionate, savvy readers who care about the news and who want to share their interests with friends."

This use of Facebook Connect is unusual because Facebook typically does not undertake many official partnerships with third-party sites when it comes to its developer APIs. And this particular partnership may come under some scrutiny: The Huffington Post, which began as a political news site and has since expanded into many other areas of coverage, is controversial--not only in terms of its partisan leanings (it was co-founded by left-of-center pundit Arianna Huffington) but because the majority of its bloggers are unpaid and because some critics have argued it relies too heavily on third-party content that it doesn't always pay for.

But the social network's executives appear to have given The Huffington Post their stamp of approval, at least when it comes to the site's model for news consumption.

"The Huffington Post has led a revolution in how people discover and consume news," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, herself a veteran of the political world, said in a release. "With the integration of Facebook Connect, HuffPost Social News is now leading the way to make news even more of a social experience, giving people new ways to share and filter news and current events through their networks of friends on Facebook."

Facebook likely hopes that this partnership will be a sort of example to the news industry--which is obviously looking for some new ideas right now--and that other media outlets will, in turn, build similar products.