Editor’s note: The internet has always been free, fair and democratic but this space is under threat today. This isn’t an issue that we see around us on the streets or hear many people talking about, but it dictates our present and future in a manner more real than we can imagine. People who’re joining the internet today should be able to use the internet without any restrictions, just the way it is meant to be. Savetheinternet.in has compiled the following 10 facts about Free Basics by Facebook that should give you a clearer idea about what it is trying to promote.
1. There are other successful models (like this, this, or this) for providing free Internet access to people, without giving a competitive advantage to Facebook. Free Basics is the worst of our options.
2. Facebook doesn’t pay for Free Basics, telecom operators do. Where do they make money from? From users who pay. By encouraging people to choose Free Basics, Facebook reduces the propensity to bring down data costs for paid Internet access.
3. Free Basics isn’t about bringing people online. It’s about keeping Facebook and its partners free, while everything else remains paid. Users who pay for Internet access can still access Free Basics for free, giving Facebook and its partners an advantage. Free Basics is a violation of Net Neutrality.
4. Internet access is growing rapidly in India. We’ve added 100 million users in 2015. Almost all the connections added in India the last 1 year are NOT because of Free Basics.
5. Free Basics is not an open platform. Facebook defines the technical guidelines for Free Basics, and reserves the right to change them. They reserve the right to reject applicants, who are forced to comply with Facebook’s terms. In contrast, they support ‘permissionless innovation’ in the US.
6. The only source of info on Facebook’s Free Basics is Facebook, and it misleads people. Facebook was criticised in Brazil for misleading advertising. Their communication in India is misleading. People find the “Free” part of Free Basics advertising from Facebook (or FreeNet free Internet) from Reliance misleading.
7. Facebook gets access to all the usage data and usage patterns of all the sites on Free Basics. No website which wants to compete with Facebook will partner with them because it will have to give them user data. Facebook gives data to the NSA and this is a security issue for India.
8. Research has shown that people prefer to use the open web for a shorter duration over a limited set of sites for a longer duration.
9. Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t have ads, but does not say that it will never have ads on Free Basics.
10. Facebook has shown people as saying that they support Free Basics when they haven’t. They may claim 3.2 million in support, but how many of those mails are legitimate?
How you can help
And if you’re still wondering, watch the video by All India Bakchod below: