Far from dropping its controversial free cut-down version of the Internet, Facebook has renamed and rearmed its Internet.org offensive. It would seem that Mr. Zuckerberg is not one to back down from a challenge. In case you missed the furor surrounding the platform, see here, here and here.
As Facebook said in May when it announced the effort: “This is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the value of the internet, and that we hope add value to their lives. These websites are very simple and data efficient, so operators can offer these for free in an economically sustainable way. Websites do not pay to be included, and operators don’t charge developers for the data people use for their services.”
Critics and there are many, have complained that this is a Facebook-led campaign to coral the Internet and push its own services at the expense of other. Internet.org was recently caught up in the Net Neutrality debate still raging in India. India is a prime candidate for the Free Basics platform.
Facebook announced the switch last Thursday – Starting today, more than one billion people who have access to Internet.org’s free basic services across Asia, Africa and Latin America will now be able to access more free services through the Internet.org Platform. ..today, more than 60 new services are available across the 19 countries where free basic services are available. Not only does this expand the range of resources available to people, it gives them more choice and control over the services they can use in the app and website.
Today we’re also announcing a new name for the app and mobile website — Free Basics by Facebook. We’re making this change to better distinguish the Internet.org initiative from the programs and services we’re providing, including Free Basics.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is scheduled to visit Facebook Californian HQ Sunday. The visit is to promote the government’s Digital India campaign. Many will see it as a big Like for the renamed Free Basics platform.