Facebook’s free internet plan has been the center of controversy since the start, but the company has never given up. Now it has set its eyes on a new country. The social media giant intends to bring its Free Basics service to millions of people in the U.S. and is reportedly in talks with government officials and wireless carriers, according to The Washington Post.
Stretching data plans
The Post said that Free Basics would not directly compensate users for their data use, but it would allow them to stretch their data plans in partnership with local wireless carriers. Users of the app would gain access to news, health services and information. Facebook hasn’t explained how the Free Basics user experience would be, notes The Post.
However, in a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said, “While we have nothing to announce, Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we’re always exploring ways to do that, including in the United States.”
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The Free Basics project was launched in 2014. Its purpose was to provide a limited number of internet sites and services for free to parts of the world where the majority has no online access. The service is available in 36 countries and is a way for Facebook to spread its influence in areas such as Asia, Latin America and Africa, notes CNET.
Internet.org an important initiative for Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg has a long-term vision to connect the entire world to the internet, for which he is willing to use of kinds of approaches. Nearly two-thirds of the world is deprived of internet services, and Zuckerberg intends to bring the next billion people online through the company’s Internet.org initiative.
Internet.org’s mission statement says, “Imagine the difference an accurate weather report could make for a farmer planting crops, or the power of an encyclopedia for a child without textbooks.”
Facebook has been criticized for deciding on what type of content would be offered and also for giving more preference to certain websites over others. People are worried that this would mean a violation of the principles of net neutrality, which say that equal treatment should be given to all types of content and services on the internet. Facebook tried to bring its Free Basics program to India, but it was derailed due to regulatory scrutiny.