Following rumours swirling around cyberspace, Facebook has confirmed new features for the site, including an instant messaging feature that will allow live chat between users.

Facebook plans to roll out new privacy features this week that will give users more control over who sees the data stored on their profile pages.

The new controls will allow users to set who can access specific areas like photo albums, mobile phone number or email address with different levels granted to different people, or groups.

In contrast, Facebook users will also be able to share information about themselves with a wider group of people, thanks to a new "friends-of-friends" feature.

The much-rumoured web-based chat - a new application called "Facebook Chat" will go live within weeks.

Facebook Chat will appear as a small icon on the bottom of the web browser that, when clicked, pops up a small chat window. Chat conversations will be archived for 90 days, although users will have the option of erasing them sooner.