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“Free Basics” – What you need to know about Facebook’s evil step

A couple of months ago, it was all about “Net Neutrality” and “Save the Internet” campaigns in India, and it was all for a single reason – to keep the Internet equal to all. No differentiation, no discrimination. But, you know there’s some villain who tries to pull things around his own way.

This time, it is our favorite social network Facebook trying to break things apart, by introducing what they call as “Free Basics”, with no actual meaning of “Free” here. According to Facebook, Free Basics is something that will give free access to the Internet. But is that it? There is a catch here. A big catch. You need to understand this, or the way you use the Internet and access websites is going to change, forever. This isn’t a joke, nor this is something you should ignore and move on, thinking that it is just another topic that has popped up on your timeline as always.

Free basics violating net neutrality

What’s Free Basics according to Facebook?

According to its maker, Free Basics is a service from their own project, which would give users an access to a bunch of websites for free. That includes Facebook, Messenger, Wikipedia and a few other government websites.

Facebook is planning to increase its reach and make the Free Basics project bigger so that users get free access to those websites for always.

What “Free Basics” actually is?

An evil plan by Facebook a.k.a. to change the way Internet is used in India. There are ways of accessing the Internet for free, and one very generous approach is by Aircel, who is offering free Internet without any restrictions. You can access any website, use any app that needs data connectivity, but only on slow speeds. But that is free and unlimited – you can choose which website you want to access. With Free Basics, you cannot. Facebook can, and will control what can be done.

Now, free Internet, why is that bad?

Save the internet net neutralityCome on. We haven’t seen Facebook being so generous ever. A social network that does more business than a business network would do is having full front-page ads on leading newspapers, have huge hoardings on national highways, and you think that is because they want to offer something for free?

It is free, only with so many limitations that it better not exist at all. Let’s first introduce it in a simpler way – “I have an Aircel SIM. Will I get access to Internet with Free Basics? No, because it is only Reliance communications, through which Facebook is giving access for free”. How is that free and non-differentiating?

The fact of the matter is – Free basics is violating Net Neutrality. We don’t have a choice here if Free Basics gets approved. The Internet won’t be neutral or equal for everyone. Here’s why.

The following points are taken from team

  • Facebook doesn’t pay for Free Basics, telecom operators do. Where do they make money from? From users who pay. By encouraging people to choose Free Basics, Facebook reduces the propensity to bring down data costs for paid Internet access.
  • Free Basics isn’t about bringing people online. It’s about keeping Facebook and its partners free, while everything else remains paid. Users who pay for Internet access can still access Free Basics for free, giving Facebook and its partners an advantage. Free Basics is a violation of Net Neutrality.
  • Internet access is growing rapidly in India. We’ve added 100 million users in 2015. Almost all the connections added in India the last 1 year are NOT because of Free Basics.
  • Free Basics is not an open platform. Facebook defines the technical guidelines for Free Basics, and reserves the right to change them. They reserve the right to reject applicants, who are forced to comply with Facebook’s terms. In contrast, they support ‘permissionless innovation’ in the US.
  • Facebook gets access to all the usage data and usage patterns of all the sites on Free Basics. No website which wants to compete with Facebook will partner with them because it will have to give them user data. Facebook gives data to the NSA (source) and this is a security issue for India.
  • Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t have ads, but does not say that it will never have ads on Free Basics.
  • Facebook has shown people as saying that they support Free Basics when they haven’t. They may claim 3.2 million in support, but how many of those emails are legitimate?

Save the internet

It is “us” who made Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg think that Facebook users blindly hit the “Send” or “Like” or “Share” button when it is from some organization, or directly from Facebook itself.

What can be done?

One won’t be able to prove that a certain number of emails were illegitimate, but we can, at least, let TRAI know that we are against what Facebook is doing. How?

  1. IGNORE the Facebook notifications. At least, do that now. You will see Facebook literally torturing you with notifications saying that your friends gave their voice in support of Free Basics, and asking you to follow the same and send an email. There will be a pre-filled stuff ready to be shot to TRAI, and that basically goes in full support of Free Basics.
  2. VOICE YOUR OPINION against Free Basics and in support of Net Neutrality. Here’s how to do it – visit and there will be a very clear and good message, which you have to send from your email address. This is very important. Even if you are not supporting Free Basics, you have to take one more good step by showing your support towards Net Neutrality.
  3. SHARE this message and let others know that they are doing it wrong by supporting Free Basics from Facebook.

Source:, Facts about Free basics

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