Facebook wants users to support Internet.org; Say ‘No’ to Mark
For past few weeks, support for Net Neutrality has grown. TRAI received millions of emails supporting net neutrality in India. Facebook’s Internet.org and Airtel’s ZERO program were the main target of users. Most probably TRAI will not allow these programs in India in support of Net Neutrality. But after the start of Net Neutrality debate, Cleartrip and NDTV pulled out of internet.org program. So, Facebook has now turned to its users. Facebook has started a new initiative to ask support for its internet.org program.
Facebook has created a separate page specially for Indian users and asking users to support its internet.org program.
“More than a billion people in India aren’t connected to the internet yet. With Internet.org, people get free access to information and opportunities that can have a positive impact on their lives. They can keep in touch with family and friends, and view helpful websites about health, education, jobs, government and more,” Message on that page reads.
Facebook has around 112 million users in India from which 99 million users active mobile users.The eMarketer report also claims that India will surpass US in Facebook mobile users by 2017. But India still have around a billion people who do not have access to Internet. With this free internet program, Facebook aims to connect those users with Internet. Not only in India, Facebook has initiated this program in many other countries. But in India, Internet.org program is in trouble.
Before you become emotional after reading the emotional lines by Facebook, I want you to know the truth about internet.org. Internt.org is not about free internet. It is about the free access of Facebook to every one and bring more users to its platform. If Facebook says that internet.org is about the free access to Internet, is he trying to say that Internet is only those bunch of websites which are available on internet.org? If users will try to access other websites which are not available on Internet.org, users will have to pay data charges. Is this the free internet? ‘No’. For internet.org users, Internet is not free, only few specific websites are free.
Access to few websites for free != Access to internet for free
Internet.org is available in India via Reliance. So, you need to be Reliance users for accessing the free Internet via this program.
If still internet.org seems a good concept, you need to think about its impact. Users who will use internet.org to access the internet will only be restricted to websites which are partners of the program. Now Facebook asks other developers to join the program and also inviting other telecom partners to join the program. But I don’t think that all the websites of the Internet will come on this platform. Still, there will only be few bunch of websites accessible for free. And if all the telecom partners join this program, Facebook will own the Internet and it will decide things as per its own requirement.
There is one more important thing to note which I found in a article on Hindustan Times. This article mentions about the research by Helani Galpaya on “bottom of pyramid” telephone users in Indonesia. Most of the users who said that they did not use Internet accepted that they use Facebook often. It means, users are addicted to Facebook while they have no internet to Internet. This will also be the same thing with internet.org in India. It is not necessary that users will use other websites or not, but they will surely access Facebook.
If Mark is seriously thinking to connect the world in unbiased way, he must think about offering access to all websites for free. Internet.org program does not care about bringing users to access Internet, but it cares to bring users on Facebook. The more users on Facebook, more revenue.
Mark, don’t be too selfish. Think seriously about startups who already have less resources to fight with big rivals. This kind of programs will discourage them and give them less opportunity.
Facebook should not own Internet. So, don’t support internet.org. Support net neutrality.