The office of a multi-billion dollar web giant is one of the last places you’d expect to have slow Internet speeds, but for one hour each week, Facebook will be implementing "2G Tuesdays" to help their employees better understand how their app is used in the developing world.
Over the next few years, one billion people in markets across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East will own their first smartphone. When these new users log onto the Internet for the first time many of them will be using a 2G connection, which can take over two minutes to load a single page. Facebook has a whole team of engineers dedicated to catering to these emerging markets who have traveled to places like Kenya and India to get a clearer understanding of how the app functions there.
Instead of sending the rest of their employees on an international field trip, Facebook is giving them the option to experience simulated 2G for an hour at a time. Each Tuesday morning, staff members who log onto the Facebook app will see a prompt at the top of their News Feed giving them the option to switch to a slower connection speed. Experiencing "2G" firsthand is meant to get employees thinking about how the app can be improved for these markets while also demonstrating the progress that’s already been made. Facebook recently launched its own app for emerging markets that's able to determine an individual user's connection speed when opened. The app prioritizes News Feed stories based on what loads the fastest, placing links and status updates above data-heavy pictures and videos.
Engineering Director Tom Alison hopes that by experiencing the limitations of 2G firsthand, employees will become better attuned to the needs of users in the developing world.
As he tells Business Insider, "You really experience your own Facebook in a much different way on 2G. It's really a visceral feeling when you see your own content on this type of connection."
[h/t Business Insider]