Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had a great idea when he thought of the Free Basics program. Unfortunately, this program isn’t being received well in other parts of the world, such as India.
Today, Zuckerberg was informed that India’s telecom regulator has decided to ban Free Basics from the country. Here’s why that decision was made.
Why Free Basics Was Banned
The concept behind banning Facebook’s Free Basics is simple enough. India’s telecom regulator does not want to allow Free Basics simply because the program has been found to violate basic net neutrality rules. India’s telecom regulator argues that Facebook’s app would favor certain services more than others, and this would violate net neutrality as it is known.
Of course, Facebook argues that this is not the case (and the social network’s employees have been arguing with India’s telecom regulator for a long time now). However, today marked the day when the ruling was made in India. Facebook’s Free Basics will not be coming to India. Zuckerberg has told press that he will not give up on trying to connect India.
What Free Basics Does
Facebook’s Free Basics provides free access to a variety of Internet sites such as Wikipedia, health sites, the BBC, and other programs that Facebook deems necessary or basic. But that’s just the issue. The programs that Facebook would provide access to are those that Facebook deems necessary or basic - not what might be basic from another perspective.
Facebook argues that the websites and documents the company would connect people to with Free Basics are, in fact, essential. Zuckerberg’s main mission with Free Basics is to connect the world to knowledge that is not currently attainable. It’s hard for everyone to trust Facebook’s mission, though.
Facebook Has a Painted Past
It’s no secret that Facebook has faced some privacy concerns in the past. In some parts of the world people tend to brush these things off or just forget about them, but in places like India (and in other countries), keeping private details, well, private, and not subjecting the public to a company’s agenda (like the one that India assumes Facebook has) is vital.
Zuckerberg has planned to bring Free Basics to pretty much every part of the world that does not currently have access to things like Wikipedia. He also plans to bring Free Basics to countries where the government controls all information that the people read and know about, but, of course, this is a problem within those countries.
Governments that do control all the data that people read and all the details of the world that a population knows about do not want a company like Facebook providing free and easy access to information. India was a massive piece of the Free Basics target market, and Zuckerberg has stated that he is not going to give up on connecting India.
For now, though, Facebook’s Free Basics won’t be happening in India. Whether or not Zuckerberg will succeed in getting India to become a part of the Free Basic programs remains to be seen, but it doesn’t look promising at the moment.