0.freebasics.com Facebook

4 min read Jun 11, 2024
0.freebasics.com Facebook

Free Basics: Facebook's Controversial Attempt to Bring Internet Access to the World

Free Basics was a program launched by Facebook in 2013 with the goal of providing free access to a limited set of websites and services to people in developing countries who lacked internet access. The program was controversial, with critics arguing that it violated net neutrality principles and benefited Facebook at the expense of other internet service providers and content creators.

How Free Basics Worked

Free Basics offered users access to a limited number of websites and services, including Facebook, Wikipedia, and a few other basic apps. These websites and services were accessible without data charges for users in participating countries.

The program was delivered through zero-rating, a practice that allows certain websites and services to bypass data usage limits, effectively making them free to users.

Arguments Against Free Basics

  • Violation of Net Neutrality: Critics argued that Free Basics violated net neutrality principles by giving preferential treatment to Facebook's services over others. This, they argued, created a two-tier internet where users were restricted to a limited set of content and services.
  • Lack of Transparency: Critics also pointed to the lack of transparency surrounding Free Basics, arguing that Facebook was not fully disclosing the program's limitations and how it was impacting other businesses.
  • Dependence on Facebook: Some argued that Free Basics created a dependence on Facebook for internet access, which could limit users' access to other valuable websites and services.

The End of Free Basics

In 2016, Free Basics was banned in India after a public outcry over its alleged violation of net neutrality principles. This was a significant setback for the program, and Facebook eventually discontinued Free Basics globally in 2016.

Legacy of Free Basics

While Free Basics ultimately failed, it raised important questions about the future of internet access in developing countries. The program highlighted the challenges of bridging the digital divide and the need for inclusive and equitable internet access.

The debate surrounding Free Basics continues today, with the concept of zero-rating remaining a contentious issue in the world of internet access and net neutrality.

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