Clamorworld Exclusive: Free Basics Fineprint- The Popular Verdict


In continuation of our ongoing series on Free Basics By Facebook, here we unveil the key reason that most people polled by the Clamorworld Survey consider it extremely flawed, motivated by individual gains and hardly a social cause.

It has been rightly pointed out that Indians who can afford a reasonably good digital device like a mobile/tablet/computer to access facebook can surely pay for the other useful websites that are anyway accessible on the internet. The claim that Facebook is going to town justifying privileging certain sites over other and promising to bear the cost has been that their deep intent to provide millions of Indians access to internet. Well if indeed the desire is so, they really do not have to go on such a convoluted route, they need to simply provide free WiFi access across the country! Trust me Mr Zuckerberg you can then really help many million Indians access the internet then in reality or even better why not bear the data cost for many who cannot afford it.

Free Basics by Facebook though claims to want to expand internet access but in reality all it does is erodes the free and open structure of the internet and goes against the spirit of net-neutrality. Importantly another fact that has been very well represented is if at all it is done with positive thoughts, why is Facebook almost compelling users to accept/sign-up for Free Basics on the sly. Let them then make all this information available to users and help them make an informed choice.

Free Basics violates almost every bit of sentiment that the internet personifies freedom of choice, free of choosing the source to getting information and an ever expanding resource base. If FB’s want to spread internet literacy so high then why don’t they choose to do some dedicated work to improve the overall literacy levels in India opined many. Yes indeed, in a country which is still grappling with some basic human rights considerations like Good education, sanitation, social security, surely the funds that Facebook is ready to commit to Free Basics can find far better avenues aimed at achieving sustainable growth. And surprisingly Mr Zuckerberg does not have to search too far for the options.

In Bangaladesh the Grameenphone users can access free data in exchange of watching an ad. In India we already have the Aircel model which provides free internet access at 64 kbps speed to all its users for the first three months. Orange users in Africa get 500 MB worth free data on buying a specific handset costing $37. So the examples are there from across the world for you to choose and decide if expanding the internet user base and improving the internet penetration in India is your noble motive but surely Free Basics as you have conceived it now is not a solution.

One final question that many including me are awaiting a response from Mr Zuckerberg before I rest my case, “Why has Facebook given users a limited choice of websites including a blog and a real estate page as opposed to free access of the internet to all those who cannot afford? “

In our next edition we get you the comparison between Free Basics & Net Neutrality for in Clamorworld we are committed to the cause to help you make an informed choice.


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