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Facebook Is Continuing With Expansion Of Its Controversy-Hit FreeBasics Service Across Country

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Despite those not-so-good reviews and critical reception it received for its Free Basics (earlier Internet.Org), Facebook continues to promote its internet.org initiative through Free Basics in India.

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced through a Facebook post that they have made Free Basics available to all the subscribers of Reliance in the country. So far, Free Basics was only available in six states Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana.

In his post, Zuckerberg mentioned a story about a farmer in Maharashtra who used free services such as AccuWeather, Reuters Market Light from Free Basics to overcome traditional farming practices and get a better yield and price of his crops. 

By using Free Basics, Ganesh has doubled his crop yield, eradicated insect infestations and even invested in new crops and livestock,

Zuckerberg wrote in the post.

The post went viral within few hours and currently — after 14 hours since it was posted, it has over 80K likes, 3.5K comments and over 4.5K shares. While a majority of the comments posted were largely positive, there were few opposing voices which raised common concerns of net-neutrality.

Free Basics, to remind you, is a part of internet.org initiative by Facebook, launched in September this year. The basic premise of Free Basics remains the same as Internet.org, i.e, to provide free access to services like health, education, jobs and communication to people who cannot afford data charges.

Free Basics is open as a platform for developers to make apps and services in order to give equal opportunity to everyone to offer their services in Free Basics. So Facebook has no longer any say in deciding which service or app will get to use Free Basics which was one of the major concerns of the propagators of net-neutrality who are against Internet.org or Free Basics.

However, there is still a catch as it mentioned that telecom operators may decline services that “cause undue strain to networks, or breach legal or regulatory requirements”, indicating that telecom partners of Free Basics do have a say in which companies get to offer their services through Free Basics platform.

Last month, during his famous visit to India, Zuckerberg had strongly defended his stand on Internet.org and Free Basics.

Free basics does not intend to harm anyone — neither the consumers nor the operators. Any developer who can stream low-data consuming content can be a part of the platform.

Zuckerberg had said.

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