Mark Zuckerberg makes renewed pitch to defend Facebook’s Free Basics

Mark Zuckerberg appeared on a video to personally promote Free Basics and also wrote a personal appeal in one of the leading newspapers.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: December 29, 2015 8:25 am
Facebook, Free Basics, Net Neutrality, Mark Zuckerberg, TRAI, Free basics and free internet, technology news Mark Zuckerberg appeared on a video to personally promote Free Basics and also wrote a personal appeal in one of the leading newspapers.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg today made renewed pitch for its controversial Free Basics Internet service in yet another marketing blitz saying it protects net neutrality.

Facebook’s proposed Free Basics plan allows customers to avail of services like education, health care and employment listings through apps specially designed for this platform on their phones without a data plan but does not allow access to many services such as YouTube, Gmail, Google or Twitter. Zuckerberg appeared on a video to personally promote Free Basics and also wrote a personal appeal in one of the leading newspapers.

Watch our videos on Net Neutrality debate 

While Free Basics allows users to access a small number of Web services without charge, it has been criticised by some for alleged violation of the principle of net neutrality, a concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

“We believe that connectivity is a human right and that getting connectivity for the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation. When people are connected, we can accomplish some pretty amazing things.

“We can get closer to the people that we care about, we can get access to new jobs and opportunities and ideas. We can receive education and healthcare and communication and access to new services,” he said in the video post.

Also read: Video: AIB on why Facebook’s Free Basics is against Net Neutrality

He said connectivity can’t just be a privilege for some of the rich and powerful and needs to be something that everyone shares and an opportunity for everyone. “I hope you will join us in doing this.”

Keen to tap the world’s largest offline population, Zuckerberg in an opinion piece in the daily compared Free Basics to a library—which houses only a selection of books—as well as to public healthcare and education.

“Everyone also deserves access to the tools and information that can help them to achieve all those other public services, and all their fundamental social and economic rights. That’s why everyone also deserves access to free basic Internet services,” he wrote.

Critics, however, said Free Basics violates the principal of net neutrality by offering some services for free, giving them an advantage over competitors. Also, Facebook acts as a gatekeeper for Free Basics, permitting some services, while rejecting others. Telecom regulator TRAI has already asked Reliance Communications, Facebook’s Free Basics partner in India, to suspend the services temporarily.

It has also sought comments by December 30 on a consultation paper on allowing service providers to charge different pricing for data usage on websites, applications and platforms.

Must read:Reliance confirms that Facebook Free Basics service is on hold

Zuckerberg, whose Facebook is spending billions of dollars on projects to deliver the Web to under-served areas via drones, satellites and lasers, said India’s progress depended on providing Web access to the one billion Indians without it.

“This isn’t about Facebook’s commercial interests – there aren’t even any ads in the version of Facebook in Free Basics,” he wrote in the Times of India. “If people lose access to free basic services they will simply lose access to the opportunities offered by the Internet today.”

Writing the piece under the title ‘Free Basics Protects Net Neutrality’ and that the service ‘is a bridge to the full Internet and digital equality’, he said, “Who could possibly be against this?”

This comes on top of full page advertisements that Facebook has run in newspapers to bolster support for Free Basics.

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  1. D
    Dec 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm
    Mr. Zuckerberg, if this is what you want us to believe - "A G social cause"; What stops you from donating funds or working with an NGO or a LOCAL government body to improve internet access and connectivity in India? Your mentor, Bill Gates might have some insights to share... The argument that Private Enterprise can do better than the Government or a Not for Profit NGO is naive, far fetched and dated as the beliefs of those Marxists and Socialists who saw their ways as a means to solve the WORLD's PROBLEMS. As for credentials, isn't Mark is simply milking dry his only success story - Facebook!! He lacks the bandwidth to think beyond the "Facebook" business model and is blinded by the same "Halo effect" that fed the skewed and outdated beliefs of the Marxists and Socialists. Bill Gates knew better as he did not see a Microsoft way to solving all of world's problems... he worked with "those who know how to do it right and access to the end user" - the GOVERNMENT and the NGO's.
    1. Sanat Sachdeva
      Dec 29, 2015 at 6:41 am
      1. S
        Dec 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm
        Zukerbergji please stop bakwas. Just allow all sites without any restrictions. That is neutrality. You are not going to control us.