Facebook is rolling out several changes intended to provide a smoother News Feed experience when people are on slow or spotty connections.
“People are coming online at a staggering rate in emerging markets, and in most cases they’re doing so on mobile via 2G connections,” product and engineering managers Chris Marra and Alex Sourov wrote in a blog post.
A 2G connection does not play nice with a Facebook feed laden with auto-play videos, large photos, Instant Articles, and other data-heavy content. So a new update currently in testing will only fetch the most important content, provided it doesn’t slow down your experience.
“We look at all the previously downloaded stories present on your phone that you have not yet viewed, and rank them based on their relevance,” Marra and Sourov wrote. “We also factor in whether the images for the story are available.
“This way we can immediately display relevant stories you haven’t seen yet, instead of showing a spinner while you wait for new stories.”
Once you’re back on a solid connection, Facebook will load and rank stories normally.
Meanwhile, users without a Web connection can now comment on stories; they will then go live once the phone reconnects. The ability to like and share posts while offline is already available.
“These changes will help anyone who is on a poor Internet connection—even those whose network connectivity is generally good but who have intermittent connections in places like subways and tunnels, or at large events,” Facebook said.
Earlier this year, Facebook started prioritizing News Feed content based on your connection. Those perusing the service on 4G LTE can browse videos, photo albums, and news stories; folks on slower connections—like Internet.org’s Free Basics—might only see text updates and links. They won’t, however, be able to avoid ads, which now display as a slideshow to be viewed on the most basic devices and slowest connections.
In June, the company also launched its Facebook Lite Android app, which consumes less data and works across all network conditions in countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe.