Facebook Invites Developers to Internet.org
Facebook has announced that it is opening up its new platform internet.org to developers to build apps and sites for it. Launched in 2014, Internet.org is Facebook’s new scheme, aimed to give free internet access to people in developing countries. The project has so far been set up in 8 countries; Zambia, India, Colombia, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines and Indonesia. Partnering with a limited number of mobile networks, internet.org will make free mobile data available to users of basic mobile devices.
According to Internet.org, two thirds of the world is not connected to the internet. By making online information freely available, Facebook believes it is opening up a world of possibilities to those who might not have access to information otherwise. Websites and apps cannot be data intensive and are information focused, such as medical and education sites. Internet.org will also include Facebook’s own social network and messaging feature. However, the initiative has caused outrage from activists worldwide, who claim it will change the nature of the internet, which should be equal for all and there is a fear that while governed by one American corporation it violates the initial principles of an open web, the foundation that the internet is built on.
The decision has drawn criticism from online activists in India who expressed concern over the social network’s control over all data accessed on the service, saying it violated the principles of an open web.
The platform will be open to all developers who meet certain guidelines, including that they produce content that can be browsed on both basic mobile phones as well as smartphones and is accessible in limited bandwidth situations, Facebook said.
Acknowledging the backlash by those concerned about internet neutrality, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that it would not be sustainable to make the whole internet free for all and he more concerned with free information access than the founding values of the internet. In a video he said: “Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access. We need both, it’s not an equal Internet if the majority of people can’t participate.”