Facebook opens free internet access service

Facebook launches free internet platforms for socio-economically disadvantaged people

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg introduces a platform called internet.org to developers around the world on Monday. However, users must meet certain requirement in order to gain access.

Internet.org, will be open to all developers as long as they are able to meet specific criterias. One of these are to make sure that all content is suitable to browse with smartphones, features and in limited bandwidth scenarios.

Not supporting important contributors to the browsing experience such as HTTPS and  JavaScript may be an additional drawback for the service.

The internet service was previously paired up with Reliance Communications in order to launch access in India on February.

Their aim was to provide free internet access to rural and disadvantaged areas of developing countries. However, a controversial debate was sparked in the world’s third largest population over the ethics of the service.

Indian activists argued that internet.org claimed control over all data accessed therefore violating the principles of an open web. Upon this, several e-commerce firms and content developers withdrew out of the service.

This is not the first time facebook received criticism over violating the privacy of its users.

In 2014, Facebook social networking website split its messenger service, forcing people to download the app in order to continue using the feature on their portable device.

According to Google Play, the app has access to find accounts on the device, read contacts, access the user’s, as well as edit, read and receive text messages, reports the Daily Mail.

Furthermore, Nikhil Pahwa, a volunteer with pro-net neutrality claims that the service may restructure the usage of the world wide web.

"Did we give unlimited free calls to people so that more people start making calls? So why this almost patronising approach to the Internet.” said Pahwa, further adding that  “you're effectively disadvantaging other companies and broader usage of the web."

Facebook’s CEO opposed to negative backlash and stated that internet.org complies with Net Neutrality rules.

"Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access. We need both, it's not an equal Internet if the majority of people can't participate," said Zuckerberg in a video post.

The service is now open in 9 different countries including Africa, Latin America, Asia, and India.

Emerging markets will be able to access the service which largely focuses on job listings, agricultural information, healthcare and education for free. Additionally, they will gain access to Facebook’s own social network and messenger service.

TRTWorld and agencies