Facebook Inc’s controversial Internet.org website and the app have been renamed to Free Basics on Thursday. A new name aims to give a clearer distinction between the broader Internet.org initiative and the website that offers the underserved parts of the world with free basic Internet services, the social networker said.
Not all in support
“The platform creates an opportunity for developers to offer additional services that integrate with Free Basics, providing users with more choice and control over their online experience,” the firm said. Several major tech firms including Nokia and Samsung, are backing the year-old platform, whose goal is to provide Internet access to people around the world. Internet.org has reached to over a billion people in 19 countries in past one year. However, Facebook gave no details on the number of people that have actually joined the initiative.
In April, several India-based web publishers withdrew from the initiative, accusing the US firm of giving preferential treatment to certain sites and platforms. They also accused the social network of hand picking the services to be offered through its initiative. Since, then the controversy spread worldwide.
Since world’s third-largest population of Internet users resides in India, therefore, it is a key market for the social network. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on the US visit, is scheduled to have a question and answer session in town hall style with Zuckerberg on Sunday. There are good chances that Facebook CEO will discuss on resolving these issues.
Facebook defends its Internet.org
For long, Facebook has been trying to address concerns saying Internet.org is actually preventing a free and open Internet. In May, the US firm said the developer portal of the company has been extended to all the websites and companies interested in becoming a part of Internet.org. And on Thursday, the firm said that there were more than 60 services on the site.
Facebook has also been accused of creating pressure on the companies to offer their services for free. Disputing this argument, the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that getting two-thirds of the world, who remained deprived of Internet facilities all their life, on the Internet is the ultimate goal of the platform.
In response to another complaint, Facebook said that Internet.org is making sincere efforts to beef up security and privacy to ensure that its users are protected from malicious attacks, said Facebook in response to another complaint from critics.