Facebook cares about you, yes you, so much it won't give up on India

Mark Zuckerberg responds to India's Free Basics ban

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken to Facebook – of course! – to vent about India's decision to ban its neo-colonialist virtual land grab Free Basics internet-on-ramp.

His post is written in earnest-ese and makes three points:

  • Facebook is not the only entity trying to help India who will be hurt by India's decision to can Free Basics;
  • Facebook will keep trying to help more people in India, and everywhere, get online because getting online brings prosperity;
  • Facebook cares about you. Yes, even you. Which is why Facebook is going to ridiculous lengths to provide internet connections all over the planet and especially in its poor parts.

Just how Facebook will continue to pursue its aim of connecting Indian mobile phone users to the internet isn't explained, but the post does mention Facebook's efforts to deliver the web with “solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers”.

Nor does the post consider the wider implications of India's ruling, which on face value prohibits zero-rating content of any sort under any circumstances. That could well be problematic because India is not yet a nation in which download allowances are enormous. Around the world, internet service providers and telcos sometimes strike deals to zero-rate certain content so that downloads don't count against download allowances.

Your correspondent's Australian ISP, for example, zero-rated streaming video from the public broadcaster ABC, mostly for competitive advantage but partly with an eye on the public service argument. India looks to have made that arrangement impossible. My ISP later zero-rated Netflix when it launched in Australia, a decision made possible in part because it owns sufficient network capacity to carry the traffic and felt that zero-rating would be a differentiator. India looks to have taken away that competitive option from its own ISPs. ®


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