Facebook has built Facebook Lite for folks in bandwidth-challenged nations – a stripped down version of The Social NetworkTM that won't wipe out anyone's monthly download allowances.
The Silicon Valley giant says the new app weighs in at under one megabyte, offers “core experiences like News Feed, status updates, photos, notifications and more” and “uses less data and works well across all network conditions.”
The Android app will appear in Asia first, then roll out across “parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe.”
As ever, let's not imagine that Facebook is being altruistic here: the company's strategy is to create a kind of alternate internet in which most of the stuff people do online – messaging, socialising, sharing and reading content, posting images and video – happens inside Facebook where the company can monetise it. By making it easier for “the next billion” - folks in developing nations whose online experiences overwhelmingly take place on cheap mobile phones – to use Facebook, the company sets itself up to reap a colossal data harvest. And eventually sling ads galore once advertisers wake up to the fact that Facebook can get them into towns and villages where few other media reach.
Of course we get none of this sort of talk from Facebook. The image at the top of the story is what Facebook wants us to imagine: a world in which we can share our kids' beauty with distant relatives. And in which that child grows up able to be tempted by clickbait that enriches their lives immeasurably. ®