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'Facebook Lite' launched in UK and other developed countries

Facebook has announced it has rolled out its ‘Facebook Lite’ app for Western users in order to serve users with slower mobile data connections.

The stripped-down version of the social media platform has been made available to people living in over 100 developing nations since 2015. From yesterday, the new rollout is available to users in more countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand.

“We’ve seen that even in some developed markets people can have lower connectivity, so we want to make sure everyone has the option to use this app if they want,” the company said.

The lightweight version of the app is only 1.68MB in size compared to its bigger brother, which weighs in at over 60MB. The app performs better on low internet speeds, and will even work on older smartphones with under-powered processors and low memory. Videos will not play on the app and many new animations have been disabled.

Pictures and photos appear smaller and grainier in order to minimise data use. In addition, the app does not preload images; instead, it loads low-resolution photos in a user's timeline, and downloads a higher resolution version if tapped on.

User interface elements are generally larger in order to account for the lower resolution displays that the app is designed for.

Some other features such as Facebook’s in-app browser have also been disabled.

Facebook Lite can be used to display messages unlike the standard Facebook app which prompts users to download Messenger, Facebook’s conversation orientated spin-off app. Messenger also has a ‘Lite’ version which has been available to Western users for some time. Although the basic functionality is intact, some features, such as sending gifs to contacts, are not available. Last week Facebook announced that it would bring video chat features to Messenger Lite for the first time.

In January the social media platform announced it would change the way it filters post and video content on users’ news feeds, with a greater focus being placed on “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people”. 

Earlier this month it ended its controversial “Explore Feed” feature which involved separating users’ feeds into two—one for posts from friends and family, and the other for news and other content. In a blog post, Adam Mosseri, the head of News Feed, said: “You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds. In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.”

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