Facebook Ripped for Campaign Backing Free Basics in India

By David Cohen Comment


An email campaign by Facebook in India in support of the Free Basics offerings from Internet.org has come under fire.

TechCrunch reported that users signing into Facebook in India are being greeted with the following message:

Act Now to Save Free Basics in India:

Free Basics gives people access to vital services such as communication, healthcare, education, job listings and farming information—all without data charges. It helps those who can’t afford to pay for data or who need a little help with getting started online. And it’s open to all people, developers and mobile networks.

However, Free Basics is in danger in India. A small, vocal group of critics are lobbying to have Free Basics banned on the basis of net neutrality. Instead of giving people access to some basic Internet services for free, they demand that people pay equally to access all Internet services, even if that means 1 billion people can’t afford to access any services.

The TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is holding a public debate that will affect whether free basic Internet services can be offered in India. Your voice is important for the 1 billion Indian people who are not yet connected and don’t have a voice on the Internet. Unless you take action now, India could lose access to free basic Internet services, delaying progress toward digital equality for all Indians. Tell the TRAI that you support Free Basics and digital equality in India.

Users can then click on a pre-filled box to email the TRAI the following message:

To the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, I support digital equality for India. Free Basics provides free access to essential Internet services like communication, education, healthcare, employment, farming and more. It helps those who can’t afford to pay for data, or who need a little help getting started online. And it’s open to all people, developers and mobile operators. With 1 billion Indian people not yet connected, shutting down Free Basics would hurt our country’s most vulnerable people. I support Free Basics–and digital equality for India. Thank you.

According to TechCrunch, tech blog Trak.in said the campaign by Facebook was “entirely false and misleading,” while The Times of India wrote in an editorial:

Facebook is just trying to play on the fact that most of us click the like button on its platform without reading or understanding the complete picture.

Readers: What do you think of Facebook’s campaign backing Free Basics in India?