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Facebook to test feature to download and view videos offline

Users will be able to download videos for offline viewing, but initial testing will involve only a small group of people in India.

Facebook has created a way to download and view its videos offline.

Facebook will be testing a new feature in which users can download videos from the site and view them at any time, whether online or offline.

Starting July 11, the testing will occur among a small group of people in India, according to a Facebook email received by blog site TechCrunch. The company targeted that country because of feedback that "mobile data and Internet connectivity is limited" in regions like India. Many people there also wrestle with poor-quality video.

The goal of the new feature is to let people download the videos over a Wi-Fi connection so they can watch them without chewing up any cellular data.

Live videos have gained popularity with celebrities, businesses and everyday people as a way to promote themselves and share events. They have also become part of news events, including the aftermath of yesterday's shooting of a Minnesota motorist.

Facebook has been pushing its Live video streaming for people to post and view videos in an effort to draw more users to the site. But the company faces competition from such social networks as Twitter, which has been touting its own Periscope video-streaming service.

"People are coming online at a staggering rate in emerging markets and, in most cases, are doing so on mobile," a Facebook spokeswoman said. "We're continuing to improve Facebook so it works seamlessly and easily for people in all parts of the world, regardless of their device."

Facebook is taking some precautions with the new feature to make sure it's not abused. Videos will be locked within the company's app, so they won't be accessible outside of Facebook. Only original videos from public pages and member profiles will be available for download, and the owner of the video can opt out of the process. And no ads will be included in the download.

The social network boasts more than 1.5 billion users, but many are in developing regions with poor Internet connectivity. Facebook has been trying to target such areas with its Free Basics service, which offers a limited number of Internet sites and services for free. But the service was snubbed by India last February over concerns that it violated the spirit of net neutrality, in which all websites are treated equally.

Facebook didn't reveal any plans for its video download feature beyond the initial testing. So we don't yet know if or when the feature might officially launch and whether it will expand to other regions beyond India.