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Amid Severe Backlash, Facebook Opens Up Internet.org as a Platform

Mark Zuckerberg
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In response to the huge controversy caused over Internet.org vs Net Neutrality debates in India over the last few months, Facebook on Monday declared its Internet.org program to be turned into a platform open to developers meeting “certain conditions”.

The platform will be open to all developers who meet certain guidelines, including content that can be browsed on both feature and smart phones and on limited bandwidth,

Internet.org Vice President Product Chris Daniels told PTI.

It is noteworthy that after Facebook launched Internet.org, an initiative to provide free internet for accessing certain services to underprivileged communities in India, there have been wide- spread debates all over the country raising concerns about this initiative violating basic principles of Net Neutrality.

The debates got intensified when Airtel announced its Zero Rental plan and received vehement opposition for the idea. That debate also tok in Internet.org within its ambit and resulted in Facebook losing some of its key partners in India. NDTV, Cleartrip, Times Network walked out of internet.org initiative.

However, Facebook is now doing away with all of its priority apps status, and will now be allowing people will to search and use the services which meet the following guidelines put forth by Facebook:

  • Services should encourage the broader exploration of internet which can possibly hint towards the prevention of practice of keeping users engaged on single website.
  • Websites requiring higher bandwidths would not be a part of this i.e. services comprising of Voip, file transfer, high resolution images,etc will not be a part of this, hence preventing the charging of special rates for WhatsApp, Skype, Viber etc by telecom companies
  • Services should be optimized for smart phones and feature phones and free from Javascript or SSL/TLS/HTTPS elements.


Daniels further stated

The principles of neutrality must co-exist with programmes like Internet.org that encourage bringing people online.

He added that Internet.org was open for mobile operators as well as developers and there are no financial transactions involved. This latest move by Facebook would certainly help cool down the heated arguments over Internet.org. However, whether the move would prove beneficial in the long run, remains to be seen.


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