Internet.org by Facebook

Internet.org is an initiative by Facebook that allows people from developing countries to access select Internet services.

On August 20, 2013, Mark Zuckerberg launched Internet.org. Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies: Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm.

According to Facebook, “Internet.org by Facebook makes the internet accessible to more people by providing them access to a range of free basic services like news, maternal health, travel, local jobs, sports, communication, and local government information.”

Internet.org ties up with a network provider to provide access to these services, especially in rural areas. Many people cannot access the internet, whether this is because they can afford to buy smartphones, or afford data plans, or the services are not available in their language, or they don’t known how to. Internet.org claims to try to remedy that. It seeks to bring basic services for free to people who don’t have access to them.

However, Internet.org was criticized for violating net neutrality as it has control over what services and whose services its users would have access to. So, for example, if Internet.org teamed up with say WebMD for medical advice. Its users would only have access to WebMD’s services, and not of Mayo Clinic or NHS, which are far more reputable sites. This violates net neutrality, which states that everyone must have access to everything on the internet without conditions.

In response to this, Facebook announced the Internet.org Platform in May 2015. This platform allows any developer to develop services for Internet.org, as long as it meets specified guidelines.

Still, even now not everyone has access to Internet.org. It has only been launched in a handful of countries. Facebook plan to launch it in as many countries as it can, and as soon as it can. However, even in places it has launched, it is not available to everyone. Internet.org is usually launched in region with a tie-up with a network provider. So, it is only available to users of that network, and not to anyone else. For example, in India Internet.org by Facebook was launched in collaboration with Reliance Communications. Users of other networks, such as Airtel, TataDocomo, Aircel, etc. or even those with LAN or WAN connections can access the service.

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