Having previously been criticised for obstructing net neutrality, Facebook will now allow third parties to provide scaled down content and services to its free internet solution.
What is Free Basics?
The Free Basics service offers free internet access to people around the world who don’t have online availability. The concept started off as ‘Internet.org’, an application which enabled users with access to Facebook curated online services, such as news and health education. The service was designed to be ‘zero-rated’ and accessed with no cost to users.
Why the controversy?
Facebook intended to provide a way for people to access the benefits of the internet for no charge, however, it attracted criticism for selecting the websites that users could access. In regards to net neutrality, critics state that ISPs should not be able to pick what information people can view online. Free basics was therefore banned in India under net neutrality laws.
Facebook has since worked with the White House to provide Free Basic in America, under the compromise that third party companies can offer content as part of the program. The US version of this application would target low-income and rural Americans who cannot afford high-speed internet access.
“While we have nothing to announce, Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we’re always exploring ways to do that, including in the United States,” a Facebook spokesman said.