While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to be on leave taking care of his young and newly born daughter, he is currently busy trying to persuade Indians of the benefits they will get from using his program known as Free Basics.
Facebook Free Basics is an initiative that begun as Internet.org and its aim is to provide free internet to millions of people that can’t enjoy access to this crucial service in developing nations. At the moment, the program is already underway in at least a dozen countries across the globe, but setbacks have already started kicking in even before the program sets foot in areas that the Zuck believes it’s much needed.
India is one of the countries with fast growing economies; however, there are still huge margins of poverty in the country. Not everyone here can access the best internet connections and yet it is one of the countries where Facebook’s services are dominant. As a result, the social network saw it a worthy place to roll out its Free Basics services, but as it turns out, not everyone in the country is happy with this move.
Facebook is a “bully”
Local tech startups have joined forces in a bid to stop Facebook from doing what it intends to do – provide unrestricted access to its services and a couple of others as well. The program, according to the developers, allows dwellers of developing nations enjoy internet that is beamed from balloons floating in the skies above them for free. Using this connection, users can access all of Facebook’s services as well as other messaging services.
The Indian government has, however, ordered for the immediate halting of this program until everything is agreed upon. Critics are of the view that the social networking giant is violating the principles of net neutrality – a concept that stipulates that all sites on the web must receive equal treatment and hence claim Facebook is becoming a bully in the internet space.
India has about 1.3 billion people and of all these, only about 250 million have access to quality internet services. Facebook’s efforts of reaching the other huge and untapped market might be hindered by the decision that finally comes from the Indian government.
Even before the issue is settled down in India, the same is also happening in Egypt where Facebook had also activated the program. The North African country has also suspended the program, with sources citing the expiration of the partnership the company had stroke with local players in the country.