As part of its effort to develop apps and services for mobile markets worldwide, Facebook has begun giving employees the opportunity to experience for themselves the slow mobile Internet speeds found in developing countries. "2G Tuesdays" are a new weekly occurrence, during which employees connecting to Facebook at work will be asked whether they want to limit their speed to 2G for an hour.
If you don't remember how slow 2G was, consider yourself lucky — it's a fraction of a fraction of the 4G speeds many of us enjoy today.
"We hope this will help us understand how people with 2G connectivity use our product, so we can address issues and pain points in future builds," wrote Facebook product manager Chris Marra in a blog post describing the recurring event.
Of course, in places like India and Africa, slow connections aren't opt-in, and they're slow 24 hours a day, every day of the week. So this little experiment has some pretty serious limitations in currying empathy among the social network's employees.
Still, it may help engineers used to gigabit connections better understand the limitations under which millions are using Facebook — or unable to use it, as the case may be. The social network is already working to improve its services for slow connections, and also pursuing a number of technologies for providing Internet access to distant and underserved areas.