Facebook's Internet.org Isn't the Internet, It's Facebooknet
Facebook's Internet.org Isn't the Internet, It's Facebooknet
By Josh Levy / wired.com
May 6, 2015

This week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Internet.org, its marquee project to “connect two-thirds of the world that don’t have internet access,” is now inviting any website or service to join the program. According to Zuckerberg, this change—which follows criticism that the program violates Net Neutrality principles—would “give people even more choice and more free services, while still creating a sustainable economic model to connect every single person in the world.”

But when you examine how the program would work, it becomes clear that rather than improve a service that is already busy violating Net Neutrality around the world, the change actually makes things worse.

It sets Facebook up to serve as a quasi-internet service provider—except that unlike a local or national telco, all web traffic will be routed through Facebook’s servers. In other words, for people using Internet.org to connect to the internet, Facebook will be the de facto gatekeeper of the world’s information. And unfortunately, Facebook is already showing what a poor gatekeeper it would be.

This kind of connectivity is not “the internet.” It’s more accurate to call it the “Facebooknet.” Internet.org will offer websites and services that are submitted directly to it, similar to how users choose apps from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. A truly open internet cannot, and must not, work like an app store with one company holding the key.

When he announced the Internet.org platform, Zuckerberg went out of his way to voice support for Net Neutrality, meaning his definition of Net Neutrality. “If a person has slower access to a video because their mobile operator demands a fee, then that’s bad,” he said. However, Zuckerberg has no issue with the practice of providing free access to some sites but not others, and that’s just as bad.

If Mark Zuckerberg actually cares about Net Neutrality, Internet.org must honor its basic principles. For instance, Facebook could leverage its significant influence by offering—or urging telecoms to offer—basic data plans, with low data caps, to vulnerable communities, enabling unfettered and non-discriminatory access to the whole internet. Such a shift would directly address the goal of connecting billions of people worldwide to the full internet.

Facebook is rapidly rolling out Internet.org all across the developing world, announcing new partnerships at a concerning rate (Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, to name a few of the recent launches). Perhaps that’s why more and more people are becoming aware of what’s at stake in the global Net Neutrality debate. Dozens of NGOs around the world have coalesced around a global definition of Net Neutrality. In India, more than a million people have submitted comments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Net Neutrality and Indian tech companies are speaking out about Internet.org, in many cases voting with their feet by withdrawing from the program.

We’re now at turning point. The next three billion people to go online could enjoy the same empowering, non-discriminatory access to knowledge and tools for expression as the first three billion. Or they could get a second-class experience, limited to internet-connected services and applications in a walled garden built by big tech and telecom companies—with the open internet just beyond their reach.

© 2015 Wired.com

Josh Levy is Advocacy Director at Access, the global NGO that defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world.

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 19,374 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 8,718 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 8,057 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 7,961 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 6,093 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 4,672 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Fire Within
Words by Sophie Scholl - Illustrations by Gavin Aung Than · 4,410 views today · Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which...
The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness
6 min · 4,202 views today · London squatting activists ANAL (Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians) are squatting empty multi-million pound buildings and opening them up to the homeless.
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 3,681 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 3,360 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 2,194 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
Voices of Standing Rock
49 min · 2,166 views today · Short stories told by water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Part 1 - Introduction: Since mid-August 2016, thousands have set up camp near the Standing Rock Sioux...
Redneck Revolt Presents: A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 2,061 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,009 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 1,677 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 1,613 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 1,390 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
The Lessons of Standing Rock
Michael Emero · 1,220 views today · In mid-November of 2016, I was a Water Protector at Standing Rock. At first my goal was to play investigative journalist; documenting then writing about every detail for my...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,116 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 1,096 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Facebook's Internet.org Isn't the Internet, It's Facebooknet