Data-cheap Facebook Lite hits 100 million users in the developing world

The Android-exclusive is the fastest growing Facebook app, and one part of the company's mission to connect the emerging world.

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Facebook has hit a milestone in its quest to connect the developing world to the Internet.

Facebook Lite, an Android-exclusive version of the social media platform's app designed to minimise data expenditure, now has 100 million users, the company said on Wednesday. Available in 150 countries, the app is most popular in India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and Philippines, the social media giant said.

The app was created for those in emerging nations where feature phones and older, cheaper smartphones are available, but fast Internet speeds are not. The app itself is only 1MB, compared to the full Facebook app's 42MB, and data expenditure is lowered by Facebook Lite's scaled back feature set. It's not too scaled back though, as video playback, pinch-to-zoom photos and emoji support were recently added to the app.

The company's CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, speaks frequently on the importance of connecting the world's developing nations to the Internet. His main method of achieving this is Free Basics, a plan that sees local telcos provide free connectivity to a selection of Internet sites and apps. The service, which started as Internet.org, has been criticised by many as violating Net neutrality, the idea that all online destinations should be equally accessible. It was recently banned in India.

Conversely, Facebook Lite is proving to be a major success for the company, reaching 100 million users in less than a year.

The company is one of many to focus efforts on the developing world. India in particular is considered to be the next major market, with brands around the world hoping to capitalise on the populous country's rapidly growing smartphone and Internet industries.

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