In an attempt to understand the millions of people in emerging markets who only have access to slow internet connections, Facebook is adopting a new opt-in initiative called “2G Tuesdays.” Facebook employees logging into the company’s app on Tuesday mornings will be able to switch to a simulated 2G connection for an hour, making profiles, pages, photos, and videos load slower than they usually do on the 3G and 4G connections nearly ubiquitous in the United States.
EMPLOYEES CAN CHOOSE TO BROWSE AT 2G SPEEDS FOR AN HOUR
“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,” Facebook engineer Tom Alison told Business Insider. The initiative is designed to help employees empathize with users in booming markets like India, Thailand, and much of Latin America, but also to help them work out what they could improve about the app to make it more usable on slower connections. “They’re going to see the places that we need to improve our product,” Alison said, “but they’re also going to see the places where we have made a lot of progress.”
It’s hard to say how much a voluntary hour a week spent using the same internet as millions of Facebook users will inform the app’s future development, but the company has already made efforts to make its social network easier to handle for slower connections. Earlier this year, it rolled out Facebook Lite, a pared-down version of the app for Android that omits data-heavy services but offers basic functionality and push notifications. But while the company, which has developed its Internet.org initiative to bring internet services to the developing world, has attempted to understand the people in the new markets it’s pushing into, it’s also faced criticism from some sources in these markets who see the attempts to inject Facebook into the fabric of the internet as stifling net neutrality.