Facebook has started a new initiative called 2G Tuesdays. On Tuesdays, employees will get a pop-up that will give them the option to simulate a 2G connection speed. The aim of the initiative is to give all its employees a chance to understand what it feels like to use the Facebook app on a very slow connection. The company hopes that this will help them empathise with users living in emerging markets who are using 2G internet speeds. This in turn, will help address issues and improve the app for those using slow connection speeds.
Most users in the US have a 3G or even 4G connections, so shifting to 2G speeds was a bit jarring. Engineering Director, Tom Alison told Business Insider about his experience with a 2G connection. He said that it was testing his patience and parts of the product felt broken when he used it. Talking about the initiative he said, “For that next hour, their experience on Facebook will be very much like the experience that millions of people around the world have on Facebook on a 2G connection." He added, "They're going to see the places that we need to improve our product, but they're also going to see the places where we have made a lot of progress.”
Earlier this month, Facebook updated its News Feed so that it would work better on slower Internet connections like 2G. For this, Facebook developed an open-sourced Network Connection Class. According to the company, this will help it determine how fast a network connection is. Facebook says that the update will allow the News Feed to retrieve more stories and photos while the user is reading it. Facebook also moved to a progressive JPEG format what would that would not only allow users to see most of the image instead of nothing at all, but also lowers the data that is required. When it detects that the internet connection is slow, Facebook will show previously downloaded stories. These will be shown until the user gets a better internet connection. Facebook also said that the news feed will only show those stories that the user has not seen before in order to ensure that data isn’t wasted.