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Facebook wants its users to stay hooked to the social networking platform even when in a bad connectivity zone. Offering some content to keep users engaged when they are offline has been the latest fad with the tech giants. Instead of leaving the page loading – which leaves the user to think about doing something else – the tech companies are looking for ways to keep users hooked by hook-or-crook.

Finally the social networking giant, after relentless testing has rolled out an update to its News Feed for the developing markets where 2G is still the norm. The update allows News Feed to show previously loaded content when the connection is compromised. The update has been launched just for the Android users but soon might be launched for iOS devices.

The cached content will be listed on top of recent posts from friends along with any unread items. While new content loads painstakingly slow in the background, users can scan through the cached items. This new update also allows users to comment on a friends post while offline. Once the connection resume the comment will be posted spontaneously. This is an extension of the existing Like and Share feature in the offline mode.

Facebook is offering this update only in certain developing nations. But, expect the feature to become the norm worldwide sooner or later. Facebook began developing this feature about two months ago. It also created an open source Network Connection Class initiative that could gauge the internet connection strength and offer News Feed content through cached items.

Given that Facebook’s endeavour to reach the 2 billion user mark will not materialise unless it taps the emerging markets, it’s not surprising that the company is offering this update only to these markets. The major gap that remains to be filled is access to the internet and by offering certain content even on a poor connection, Facebook might reach out to a larger, potential user base. Facebook has about 79 million people actively using its platform in Indonesia, while for Philippines it is 47 million. The numbers are quite staggering and account for 18% and 46% increase in user base for the two countries respectively.

Facebook started out this year by offering Facebook Lite which used less data and worked in poor connection areas. Facebook Lite was again meant only for the emerging markets and was launched for Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

To make its employees come up with solutions for slow internet issues, Facebook has reserved every Tuesday as “2G Tuesdays” wherein its employees get to feel and experience the frustrations of a slow connection and devise ideas to meet the challenges.


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