Clamorworld Exclusive: The Free Basics Fineprint


I am sure most of you reading this post are already aware of this phrase, “Free Basics By Facebook.” Some of us tried to delve deep into it, some got buoyed by the basic sentiment reflected in the opening two lines while there are many others who just rubbished it as another gimmick by Facebook.

But the question remains, “What Exactly Is Free Basics By Facebook?” Why is it creating such a lot of furore? Welcome to our 2-part series on Facebook’s Free Basics, unravelling some free and basic information on what exactly it strives to achieve and whether it could really be a solution to India’s need for a deeper internet penetration aimed at overall and comprehensive development!

According to the Facebook Free Basic Page, it “makes the internet accessible to more people by providing them access to a range of free basic services like news, maternal health, travel, local jobs, sports, communication, and local government information. To date, we’ve been able to offer these services to a billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. By introducing people to the benefits of the internet through these services, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.”

Well that said, you might wonder why then are there any opposition to such a beautiful initiative in India and many other countries?

We conducted a global survey and invited opinion from Facebook users across the world. For most people the first and the primary irritant is the Free Basics pop-up. Whether you access Facebook through a mobile device or the laptop or a desk top computer, the innocuous way in which this Free Basics pop-up surfaces and literally takes users unaware has been criticised. While you can argue that you should read a link before clicking it but the fact is nearly 30-35% of internet users tend to click somewhere on the pop-up just to get rid of it and in this case end up subscribing to it without even knowing it and to their dismay there is no way to revert once they have clicked.

My question is why is this use of indirect force for a service that is being touted as free and aimed at greater good?! Well that is exactly what our Global Survey on Free Basics reveal! If you are interested to find out Why Free Basics is lot about what’s unsaid and want to make an informed choice, keep watching this space for Part II of this series which brings forth some starting details, user opinion and a comprehensive pros and cons line-up.

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