January 20, 2015 — Questions regarding Facebook’s fairness are being raised ever since it had launched its Internet.org campaign last 2013.
The Internet.org campaign aims to provide free internet connectivity and social benefit by partnering with local platforms to areas that are still developing when it comes to internet necessity. Facebook has also received moderate success when it had launched an earlier zero rate campaign aimed at several countries in Latin America and in Africa back in 2010.
To make it simple, Facebook wanted its users to gain access to it and other select services for free and without any network data usage charge.
The free-access campaign launched by Facebook also includes a number of services that includes news, health and job information. Unfortunately, as promising as it may sound, its usefulness and fairness are still being debated.
Though it is a good way to present the internet to people who are unable to afford it, the so-called ‘benefits’ it provides are in scrutiny and critical exploration since the free-access has limitations and is only allowed on certain areas. Users would still be charged if they stray from the free-access service of Facebook and venture into other sites and content which are also linked to Facebook. Another concern is the prioritizing by various network operators to certain applications giving them an unfair advantage in marketing since larger firms will be able to outdo smaller ones like what is being experienced in the West.
Many are also questioning whether Facebook is the only entity to have entered the free-access campaign or if it is withholding other sites and entities from joining in. The biggest question that needs answering is now whether “free-access” is the best way of giving people affordable accessibility to the internet.
Although the internet has played a great part in the modern society, only 42% of the world’s population is able to access it effectively leaving 4.3 billion people without access to it. Most of these people are from developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The reason for this is due to the lack of use for the internet in these countries as well as affordability issues.