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Facebook launches stripped down 'Facebook Lite' for developing countries

The world's largest social network creates an app for lower-performance phones and people without access to speedy cellular signals.

Facebook Lite is part of the company's latest effort to attract audiences in the developing world. Facebook

Over the last decade, Facebook's list of features and capabilities has piled pretty high. Now the company is stripping that way in a new app designed for customers with low-end phones and poor cellular connections.

The new app, called Facebook Lite, weighs in at less than 1MB, about an eighth the size of Taylor Swift's hit song "Shake it Off." It also uses other tricks like downloading photos at lower quality to help ensure the app is as speedy as possible.

Facebook Lite takes up less space on a phone, the company says, and uses less data. Facebook

The app is part of Facebook's larger efforts to expand into the developing world. The company has been stepping up its operations in places like Africa, South America and Asia, using everything from the initiative to flying drones that beam Internet access to remote areas of the planet, all with the aim to help people get online.

And with good reason: More than 1 billion people used Facebook from a mobile device at least once a month, the company said in April, up 24 percent from the same time last year. In addition, 73 percent of the company's revenue derived from advertising came from ads shown on a mobile device. By 2019, nearly 90 percent of all Facebook users will regularly access the service on a mobile device, according to estimates from eMarketer.

Facebook quietly launched the app in January, offering it in places like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria and Nepal. Now it's planning to make the app available to the wider world over the coming weeks.

It's free, just like Facebook's primary app, and only available for devices powered by Google's Android operating system. A company spokeswoman said Facebook isn't offering any information about when or if the app will become available for other devices, like Apple's iPhone, as well.