Facebook has renamed what it had termed its internet access enabling platform, “internet.org” as Free Basics by Facebook.
The web platform and the app provide access to nearly 250 services that can be utilized worldwide in nearly 19 countries, India being one of the chosen ones.
Apparently a lot to Facebook, which on Thursday renamed its controversial Internet.org website and app to Free Basics. The re-branding and “differentiation changes”, including the creation of an open platform on internet.org, Facebook representatives admit, is a way to address those criticisms. The mode however is now to provide apps, and has been drawn out as a subsidiary of the original Internet.Org initiative.
Reacting to the criticism in India, Daniels said the free internet platform was now open and they had no intention of putting a filter on it. “Also, there is no exclusivity with Reliance in India”.
Following a walkout by many of its publisher partners in India, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had come out in defence of the programme, saying it did not block or throttle services and is not in conflict with Net neutrality. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook has not said exactly how many people have joined.
The program is making an impact on people’s lives by providing free health, education, and economic information.
Asked as to why accessibility could not be achieved by providing free data rather than a select set of free applications, Facebook representatives argued that free data access had the potential to be used for high bandwidth applications rather than need and it was better therefore to provide free and basic services on an open platform. But the unfounded criticism has slowed the conversation. Many of such users had, Facebook claims based on data, moved on to access the wider internet through paying their service provider further for data plans.
“We saw a huge amount of enthusiasm from developers in India who have helped expand the range of resources that can be made available to people, giving them more choice and control over the services they can use through the app and Website”. Zuckerberg announced Weve improved the security and privacy of Internet.org. We already encrypt information everywhere possible, and starting today Internet.org also supports secure HTTPS web services as well.
Daniels clarified that the Free Basics app was “not a destination for people, but a digital literacy tool”.
The developers have created specific services for connecting historically unconnected people with offerings including English Dose, Mera Doctor, M-Kisan, My Rights, SkyMet among others. Internet.org will also include initiatives like the Facebook Connectivity Labs which is building solar powered drones and systems that use satellites or laser technologies to transmit data.