Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg re branded version of free internet right discrimination seems to be taking hit from Indian entrepreneurs and Media entities. Though many of them are serving free basics ads in the air time they doesn’t seem to be morally supporting it.
But TRAI seems to be fully supporting it as Mark did heavy lobbying PM Mr.Modi when he visited USA.
As TRAI is endorsing Free Basics it looks like he will get a free ride in India.
Meanwhile Noted VC and Pinstorm founder is leading voice on behalf of neutrality activists who are opposing Free Basics or Internet.org.
In response to Mahesh support for open internet Facebook responded strongly with 10 key points and got instant recoil from Mahesh Murthy.
Here’s a counter to the “10 clarifications about Facebook Free Basics” that we ‘activists’ have apparently hidden from you.
1. “Free Basics is open to any carrier.” Sure it is. We never said it wasn’t. Irrelevant point.
2. “We don’t charge anyone for Free Basics.” Sure we all know that. We never said they charged. Even more irrelevant.
3. “We don’t pay for the data consumed in Free Basics.” We don’t say they do. Misleading again. They don’t pay operators for the data to get free sign ups for Facebook – but they spend a huge sum of money (seen those Reliance Free Net ads?) on marketing that drives customers to these operators. Either way there’s a gain for the operator. Why pay in cash when you can pay in ads?
4. “Any developer can have their content on Free Basics.” Who said they can’t? But the big sites don’t. They don’t want Facebook to own their customers, and they don’t want Facebook to snoop on their customer data, because all traffic goes via Facebook servers.
Data is cheap enough in India and eventually everybody will be on the full and open internet, given time. Or our government could offer a neutral and free internet service to its citizens. There are other solutions to getting the poor online. Selling our people to Facebook doesn’t need to be one.
5. “Nearly 800 developers have signed their support for Free Basics.” We never said they didn’t. Many, many more haven’t. Still irrelevant.
6. “It is not a walled garden. 40% of our users go on to access the full internet within 30 days.” Which means 60% of their users are stuck in Facebook jail.Why should even one Indian citizen be? The internet should be open for all our people, or the net should be neutral as we say, especially on public property, which the wireless spectrum is.
7. “Free Basics is growing and popular in 36 countries, which have welcomed the program with open arms and seen enormous benefits.” This is a lie. This scam may have been pushed through in these poor, mostly helpless African nations who have no experience of anything better, like we have, and who have no ‘activists’ like us who tell their governments they’re raising a generation of deprived children with no access to the real internet.
Also, tellingly, the more online-progressive countries like Japan, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Netherlands have outright banned programs such as Free Basics. With your help, and 12 lakh emails to TRAI last year, we’d helped to work towards a ban for it in India too – but Facebook has since then spent a large amount of cash in ads, lobbying, diplomacy and PR to try to get it unbanned here. They’ve managed to re-open a closed issue, again. With your help, we’d like to re-shut it.
More to the point, this program, call it digital apartheid, if you will, has been roundly condemned by experts ranging from Tim Berners-Lee, the gent who invented the world-wide web, to Ph. D. researchers to civil society officials working in the field, globally.
The fact that Tanzania didn’t know how to say no to Facebook doesn’t mean India has to say yes. In fact, we hope that India saying no to this digital apartheid will inspire the African and other poor nations to kick out this evil program that serves no one but Facebook at their government’s expense.
8. “In a recent representative poll, 86% of Indians supported Free Basics.” Guess what, if you’ve ever clicked “yes” on any misleading poll by Facebook apparently asking you to support “connecting India” or “free internet”, then you too apparently voted for them. They never brought you both sides of the story, to take a fair decision.
9. “3.2 million people have petitioned TRAI in support of Free Basics.” Let’s again say it for what it is: 3.2 million people out of Facebook’s base of 130 million people who were repeatedly shown a misleading petition by Facebook on top of their pages clicked yes and submit, without being told both sides of the story, and thinking they were doing something for a noble cause, and not to further Facebook’s business strategy. A large number of them, shocked at realizing what they were conned into doing have since said no.
10. “There are no ads in the version of Facebook on Free Basics. Facebook produces no revenue. We are doing this to connect India and the benefits to do so are clear.” First the unintentional lie. Facebook DOES produce revenue, about Rs. 12,000 crores worth globally. Then the intentional half-truth: It may not produce revenues from this Free Basics YET because the current version of Facebook on it has no ads YET.
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