Facebook Prioritizing News Feed Content Based on Connectivity
These days, our Facebook News Feeds are filled with auto-playing videos, large photos albums, and art-heavy news stories. It makes for a more engaging social-networking experience, but only on speedy connections.
With that in mind, Facebook announced it will prioritize News Feed content based on your connection. Those perusing the service on 4G LTE connection will see everything, but those on slower connections, like Internet.org’s Free Basics, might only see status updates and links rather than data-heavy videos.
“What this means for us on the News Feed team is making sure people can load and scroll through News Feed on any connection speed,” Emerging Markets Product Manager Chris Marra and Engineering Manager Alex Sourov wrote in a blog post.
At the same time, Facebook “can now start retrieving more stories and photos while you are reading News Feed on slower connections.” So if you’re reading one post while on a bad connection, Facebook will start loading other stories so they’re ready when you continue scrolling.
A current story will take priority, Facebook said. “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 prioritize 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,” Marra and Sourov wrote.
“We’re also investing in the best image formats for photo loading,” they said, by moving to a Progressive JPEG photo format. This lets Facebook show a lower-quality version of the image until it downloads fully, “so you can see some of the photo instead of nothing.”
The Progressive JPEG option rolled out to iOS users earlier this year, and is now available on Android, too.
Meanwhile, if you’ve lost your connection completely, Facebook will at least let you peruse content that you’ve already downloaded. “For example, if you were to open News Feed on an airplane you’d still be able to read stories you scrolled past previously, when you did have a connection, instead of just waiting for anything to load,” Marra and Sourov said.