As News Feeds on Facebook become even more feature-heavy, with recent additions such as 360 video and live streaming being perfect examples, some users with slower connections could start to experience difficulties.
Now the social media giant has taken steps to address the issue by announcing some changes to how decisions about providing content are made.
Facebook’s News Feeds will now prioritise which stories to load after connection speed has been determined, with the ultimate effect of showing previously loaded stories on the slowest connections instead of coming up with nothing.
This means that users who are at the end of a thinner pipe may get to see fewer video-based stories and more status updates and links instead.
The changes are based around a new system called Network Connection Class, which is an open-sourced solution that can work out how fast a user’s connection actually is.
Facebook’s Chris Marra and Alex Sourov commented: “If you are on a poor internet connection and your News Feed is loading slowly, we will first download the story you’re currently looking at, rather than download a series of News Feed stories.”
The pair explained: “For example, if you are looking at a photo your friend posted or a photo from a Page you’ve liked, that isn’t fully downloaded, we prioritise that photo over loading a story below it that you aren’t currently looking at, so you can see the most important photos you’re viewing as quickly as possible.”
Progressive JPEG format is also now being used, which means that larger photos are shown as lower-quality images while the information is in the process of downloading. This has been used by the company on iOS already and is now available for Android as well.
The changes will be welcomed by anyone who suffers slow connection speeds for any reason, but they are specifically aimed at users in emerging markets in the early days of going online, where 2G connections are far more common.