Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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As Facebook matures, is it losing its edge?

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ To see what Facebook has become, look no further than the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.

Sometime last year, people began sharing tongue-in-cheek online reviews of the banana-shaped piece of yellow plastic with their Facebook friends. Then those friends shared with their friends. Soon, after Amazon paid to promote it, posts featuring the $3.49 utensil were appearing in even more Facebook feeds.

At some point, though, the joke got old. But there it was, again and again â¿¿ the banana slicer had become a Facebook version of that old knock-knock joke your weird uncle has been telling for years.

The Hutzler 571 phenomenon is a regular occurrence on the world's biggest online social network. So the question is: Has Facebook become less fun?

That's something many users â¿¿ especially those in their teens and early 20s â¿¿ are asking themselves as they wade through endless posts, photos "liked" by people they barely know and spur-of-the moment friend requests. Has it all become too much of a chore? Are the important life events of your closest loved ones drowning in a sea of banana slicer jokes?

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No let up for auto sales in March; pickups star

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ America is getting back to work, and it needs pickup trucks.

Strong truck demand in March drove U.S. auto sales to their highest monthly total since August 2007, as everyone from oil and gas producers to local home builders raced to replace the aging trucks they held onto during the recession. Overall auto sales rose 3.4 percent from March of last year.

March is typically a good month for the auto industry. Many car buyers put their tax refund checks toward a down payment. And Japanese automakers, whose fiscal year ends in March, often juice sales with big incentives to end the year on a high note.

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