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Facebook is misleading Indians with its full-page ads about Free Basics (linkedin.com)
804 points by temp 698 days ago | hide | past | web | 245 comments | favorite



Indian here. The manipulation has been incredibly blatant and scummy. It's not even funny anymore. Friends who categorically denied having sent a mail to the Indian telecom regulatory authority on Facebook's behalf (conveniently supplied by Facebook) show up on my feed as having signed the mail.

It's an all-out blitzkrieg. I've seen full page ads in newspapers, banners at bus stops, even ads on local Indian websites.

It's one of the scummiest things I've seen from a major company.


Here's a screenshot of what's the permanent top-notification if you're an Indian and on Facebook- http://imgur.com/uykRY8G


WTF. "Free basic" .. It's two way communication. It's not like fucking 1994 where free TV involved four neighbours going on a satellite dish so you could get 6 channels.

Free Basic....get only the limited things we want you to have and the companies who are willing to pay for it. Fuck. That. Shit.

Want to do something that will actually help people; what about Free 1GB. Ensure every person gets 1GB of mobile data a month. Then they can go anywhere...use healthcare, government, facebook or....porn. or whatever the fuck they want. I agree, Free Basic is total bullshit.


you don't even have to go that far just offer free free 2g (without edge internet). It the slowest speed possible but sites like wikipedia will work well on them. It will help people to know important stuff without wasting time on facebook.


but then Facebook experience may be affected.

when was the last time someone in the valley/sf even tested their sites/apps on 3g? let alone 2g...



Google does this and is focused on optimizing their products for 2G. It's the kind of behavior a company will exhibit when they focus on the user first.


I agree Facebook is doing this for their own greedy reasons, but they make one very good point:

"Banning free basics on the basis of net neutrality [...] means 1 billion people cant afford to access any services."

It isn't a choice between having facebook, or having the full internet.

Its a choice between having facebook, or having no internet at all.

Surely no internet at all, is the worst option.

Nobody else is going to give full internet to them for free. They will be stuck with nothing.


Nonsense. Facebook is rich enough and powerful enough to MAKE the choice be full-internet or nothing. They and other powerful entities can provide full internet. It is THEIR fault that the choice is FaceBook or nothing because they want that to be the choice. FaceBook is not some savior here. The ramifications of pushing everyone to FB are also devastating because they would force everyone to get locked in to using FB for everything and then the power imbalance will be extremely serious in the long-term. Even a delay in getting people online is better for the people's interests than locking them into a shitty closed system for the long-term.


Facebook is not a carrier.

If any carrier chooses to provide full Internet access for free, they may do so.

So far they haven't, though. Which is why company-sponsored basic service that's free to the users emerged in the first place.


Google has announced free Wi-Fi at 100 railway stations in India. I think it does something similar in other countries (and there is Google Fibre). It is just a start but more sensible than what facebook chose to do.

Now this is what I think. Facebook is interested in being a monopoly and this step will ensure its rivals don't get in (because facebook pays for it). This is what all the argument is about. Saying billion people will get free internet is just an eyewash. They don't give you full internet, just the part which serves their interest.

Carriers should not control/discrimintate internet access. This should apply to other companies as well.


Cost structures for providing free WiFi and providing wireless telecom service are completely different though - a telecom ought to procure proper licensing, acquire some spectrum and buy/rent tower space before they earn their first dollar.

End of the day it's all about barriers for entry - the barrier to provide free WiFi is relatively low, and one can do it at the cost of an uplink connection and a wireless router. If you find a way to lower the barrier for wireless telecom space, the market forces will take over.


See: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10791939

One carrier is already trying this.

Also, facebook isn't even financing the actual data (the carriers are), and the carriers' business plan (get people hooked onto the Internet so they migrate to a full plan) works on any form of "free limited internet" plan, where the plan is limited by speed or a data cap instead of by limiting what "Internet" means. Facebook is a third party which has wedged itself into this with extra deals; but the situation from the carriers' point of view shouldn't be much different if they set a free data cap or provide a free slow internet plan.


It's not true that no other carrier is offering free internet. It's a better model with no restrictions.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/aircel-to-...


If they truly had altruistic intentions, they damn well could be.


Solutions that work when everyone is following their self-interest are better than solutions that require altruism. The most successful anti-poverty program in the history of the world is capitalism.


Really? It was capitalism, but not The Enlightenment, mathematics and science, or the development of egalitarian rule of law, or democracy?

Feudalism may have lifted more humans out of poverty than any other system in the history of the world at the time. It's a good thing we didn't decide to stop there. What would you have written at the time?


There are a lot of assumptions and learning from 200 years of capitalism baked into that remark. The rampant 'success' of capitalism was also a factor leading to communism. Like any good self regulating system it needs mechanisms in place to control it's own greed.

Also, altruism is perfectly at home with modern evolutionary theory because it assumes a more enlightened, rather than simple minded, understanding of altruism.


> altruism is perfectly at home with modern evolutionary theory

To add to your point, which I'm sure is in reference to macro-level phenomenon such as the interdependence of species, symbiosis, ecosystem complexity and the like, it's important to note that multi-cellular organisms are the epitome of individuals (cells) working for the greater good rather than local self-interest. Eons ago single cells started working together and specializing. White blood cells, neural cells and muscle cells don't compete against each other, much less is there white blood cell on white blood cell competition. When cells behavior breaks from the greater good, we call it cancer.

A perfect example of pure self interest is the virus.

Interesting that many people do consider capitalism akin to cancer, or that it behaves virally.


I'm not against altruism. That's not the point I was trying to make at all.

But whereas altruistic solutions to problems require continual interest from the donor class (which is subject the same fads as the rest of our culture), or government coercion (which eventually gets co-opted by political considerations), market solutions are robust because people are profiting from them. We'd all love to feed the starving people of the world, but sending ships full of free food isn't the solution (and can actually be harmful). It's much much more effective to set in motion the market forces that will create a stable food supply year after year.


Agree, donor based systems are non-sustainable. But tax based systems for public goods are. The Facebook initiative looks innocuous enough but Facebook is creating a dependency that could be very dangerous for the public good as the perceived marginal cost of other services is seen to be too high.

The Internet is a basic utility and public good. Monopoly usually doesn't seem to be a good model for these kinds of systems.


FWIW, Snowdrift.coop is trying to create a donor-based system for public goods that is as close as one could get to being sustainable in the way tax-based systems are. A voluntary tax can never match an imposed tax, but a social pledge and organized system can make voluntary much more feasible than it is otherwise in the status quo…


Multicellular organisms are made up of single cells which, if not for being neutered by evolution, would compete selfishly to the detriment of the organism as a whole.

Without that regulation, multicellular organisms wouldn't exist.


I'm not sure what to say to this absurd nonsense, in the same way that I wasn't sure how to deal with the kids in my elementary school who really believed that Santa Clause was real. Just telling them they are wrong doesn't help.


Reminder that capitalism required driving people from their land and ability to provide for themselves so that there's a permanent cheap labor force willing to work for practically nothing to survive.


I'm not sure that any system doesn't need /any/ altruism. It may be the case that systems which do not require much altruism to function work better, because there is a higher chance of the requirement being met, but I think that a good system would also have mechanism by which altruism can provide further benefits.

If what is required for people to act in a way that benefits others is for the people to be motivated to act that way, it seems that people being motivated by the benefit that their actions have for others would be a good motivation for them to act that way, as far as it is an available motivation.

Which, seems compatible with some senses of the word "capitalism". People value their own well-being, and the well-being of others, by some amounts, and based on that, take actions and make agreements with others so as to serve these ends as they see fit.

Of course, in that sense any system could be seen as a sort of capitalism, leading capitalism to be almost like a tautology?

Which doesn't seem to match how people use it, so either I don't understand the intent behind how people use it, or, uh, it's almost kind of empty? Probably the former.


that usually comes to bite you later.

with only one tv channel/radio station/available free web site to billions of poor, bad politicians can focus much easier on praying them. this worked very well when their only entertainment was religion cults.

everything has a consequence that will indirectly affect your ivory tower.


Your saying I'm in the ivory tower? Bad politicians have already kept a billion Indians out of modernity. Maybe they should give Free Basics a chance before they shut it down to protect their own power, or some ivory tower view that no internet connection is better than a very limited connection that nonetheless connects you with people across the world.

If there's an alternative way to expand connectivity, then why doesn't it exist now, or why doesn't someone set it up in competition to Free Basics? No one will use Free Basics if they can get real internet at an affordable price.

And your characterization of "one station" is wholly inaccurate. Even if the service included only Facebook (which it doesn't, as anyone can apply to have their web service included in the system), that's millions of profiles and pages with differing opinions, competing products, etc.


Sure but what's a solution that's a reasonable compromise until that happens?


its not a "reasonable compromise" from the point of view that Facebook is supposedly acting altruistically, this is a 100% self interested power play.


Is someone whose wireless Internet budget tops at $0 better off with access to 1 communication tool or 0?

(I realize that "unlimited communication tools" is the best answer here, but no one provides it at the budget specified, at least yet).


if the plan goes ahead, that could very easily turn into "never provides", via facebook content lockin and strongarming.


What if I claim you are rich enough to donate to charities of not only your choice, but my choice as well. Will you donate to arbitrary charities that arbitrary people ask you to? Just because you have money does not mean we get to tell you what to do with it.

>Even a delay in getting people online is better for the people's interests than locking them into a shitty closed system for the long-term.

That's because you have the luxury of having Internet access and are not affected by lack of it. Why don't you let those without any access at all get some access and let them decide whether they want to be locked in or not? Or are you saying you know what they want better then they do?


> What if I claim you are rich enough to donate to charities of not only your choice, but my choice as well.

High inequality and mega-rich charity are a related issue. Rich people is not contributing with taxes as they should. If that were the case the states will have more resources to help where help is needed.

This was in the news some time ago: "Germany's super-rich have rejected an invitation by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to join their 'Giving Pledge' to give away most of their fortune. The pledge has been criticized in Germany, with millionaires saying donations shouldn't replace duties that would be better carried out by the state."

I completely agree with that position. The state, voted by its citizens, should decide not the super-rich even when they have good intentions.


Unfortunately neither does any one if us know what the unconnected want. Let's not pretend we do.

So, given that, we're doing what we would've wanted to be done if we were in their position.

Locking me into a particular website (or a set of) , especially the one which misuses my personal information is not something i want to be locked into.

Hence, we shouldn't stand by silently letting them be locked into "Facebook and partners".

Facebook is so asking for it, this time.


> So, given that, we're doing what we would've wanted to be done if we were in their position.

Actually, I'd rather get any connectivity I could get.


> decide whether they want to be locked in or not

is the same logic as, "let people sell themselves into slavery". Sure, who is X to stop someone from selling themselves into slavery, right? But it's also an extreme asshole response to a situation where a rich and powerful slaver goes to poor people and says, "my goal is to help you, when you choose to become my slave, I will clothe and feed you and even educate you, I'm doing this to help you" and someone criticizes that.

It doesn't matter if it's not MY business to stop FB or take away others' freedom to use FB. FB is still doing this to gain power, and the ramifications of this long-term are terrible. And your statement amounts to "FB has a right to lock people in (and to misrepresent their motives), and people have a right to choose to be locked in" which is a shitty pathetic reply to my criticism.


I think your argument makes no sense. I am all for helping people etc, but just because Facebook is rich by your definition, the poor people are not entitled to its money. FB will do what is needed to promote its self interest and in that process some (supposedly poor) people get some amount of free internet, its not such an evil thing, though, if it turns to be an evil thing in the long run, it could be regulated in the future. I see arguments about net neutraility though, but I dont understand/see the solution, if FB cancels this, there is no free wikipedia to the masses (which is horrible).


The argument you're imagining makes no sense, but it isn't my argument. My argument isn't that FB has an obligation in our system to provide free internet to people nor is it that rejecting FB here is in every possible respect better. My argument is that FB is lying when they present their motives as being about the interests of the poor citizens.


I think you are not hearing the point. Given that Facebook is a greedy company (and not a charity), its not going to give away free full internet. So our choice is about allowing, or not allowing, a billion poor people free Facebook access.

Its easy for us to say this is no good and it should be stopped because Facebook access is not as good as the full internet. But who are we to deny poor people what little they can get?


First let's keep affordability aside and think about this.

Internet is built on principles of neutrality. It is built on public property (airways, land) that government leases to companies on our behalf. Internet is what it is today because of this neutrality principle. It has given rise to so many companies out of nothingness and created so much opportunity for disruption and growth. So any

We do not want to turn Internet into something useless and backwards (like cable/tv networks). That is what Facebook is trying to do here by lobbying the government to change policy. This has to be stopped no question.

Now let's talk about affordability. Government should look into programs that will lower the overall cost of Internet by reforming how they license spectrum.

They can also provide free access to Internet in public places - like public schools, public libraries, train/bus stations, agri markets etc where most information hungry people who cannot afford are already there. They can also encourage large city/town center operators to provide free wifi.

All said, most poor people in India who don't have Internet are in tier-2/3 cities and villages where there is no connectivity at all today. So, it is not a question of affordability but connectivity.

Facebook is being irresponsible and evil in this case and exploiting the situation and not doing anything to help. In contrast, google recently launched a program to provide high-speed Internet free wifi in 400 train stations in India. This is the largest public wifi program in the world that will actually help poor people.


It won't be a billion poor people getting free Facebook access.

Indians who can afford smartphones and electricity, but not a basic data plan (how many?), will be getting Facebook access at the price of being subjected to advertising, tracking, etc.


People are crafty. You dont have to have electricity at home to charge your phone. Its enough there is one power source in the village. (There was a news story about a boy that built a windmill, and the villagers paid him a bit to charge their phones). You dont even need your own phone. You can share or rent one by the minute.

Second hand smartphones are getting pretty cheap. 2.8 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. A second hand smart phone might go for 20 dollars. So its a few weeks worth of savings.

Imagine all those people getting on Facebook. They will find a way to use it for what they need.


> 2.8 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. A second hand smart phone might go for 20 dollars. So its a few weeks worth of savings.

Ten weeks income, and someone who lives on 2 dollars a day can't afford to save 100% of their income to buy a smartphone.

And how much would used smartphone prices increase if a billion people wanted to buy one?

Sharing or renting makes more sense, but in that case, why not share the cost of a data plan?


I misread. 10 days income.


This is not about the poor (although Facebook would have you believe so). It is about who controls data. I am saying this as someone who has lived in a village before. If a walled garden is given free entry, people will never get out of it, and I am stating this from experience. A lot of companies (including startups) will never be able to ever reach 1 billion people. Imagine an Apple Store, but for the whole of internet. That is what this will end with.


> It is THEIR fault that the choice is FaceBook or nothing because they want that to be the choice.

It's Facebook's fault that many Indians can't afford the Internet? Okay...it's also Facebook's fault that there is poverty in the world. You know, poverty that spontaneously started to exist in 2004, when Facebook was founded.


Nobody's blaming them for creating poverty, but taking advantage of it to lock people in to their system is another matter.


Where did the OP imply any of that?


You are incorrect in how you labeled your second "choice," it should be:

"Its a choice between having Facebook, or having no Facebook at all."

Do not let them confuse you into comparing the two... What you just said is why this sort of think makes my fucking blood boil (no anger at you friend, it's with the institution manipulating you).

What they are trying to do, and this really pisses me off, is rebrand "internet" to "Facebook," for poor Indians. A group who as of right now is unaware of the difference and less apt to understand the evils of the marketing engine behind it because they are not yet connected.

Tangent: they are making this so much worse by using government built spectrum. What the fuck kind of perverse asshole thought that would be okay?

... Back to the point.

Think about this, from an infrastructure standpoint: it will cost them more in firewalls and configuration to limit the Internet than to simply allow unfettered access.

I'm not even kidding, they are going to spend more money implementing basic access than by just giving out plain ol' Internet. Knowing that, I find it pretty fucking audacious Facebook thinks we are all so fucking stupid to accept that line of shit.

Okay... they know we won't but we don't matter to their growth target. They need mobile users, that aren't already users, that they can exploit for money (ad views, sponsored content) or their stock will tank because they aren't going to hit their growth target for Qn.

So where do they look? The world's poor. They go in and offer "internet," and market it to them as a "right" or some sort of moral high ground. Then back home they market their "humanitarian" efforts making for some touching PR moments.

/slow-clap "nice work, assholes."

And finally for how this is actually worse than "no Facebook at all," is because FB's marketing machine will go around saying to governments and media "don't worry about India's Internet, we fixed it." This, I promise, will slow the development, if not halt it, because other organizations non-profit or for-profit will think it's a done deal. Even scarier is that the people in those areas won't want "internet," because "Facebook is good enough."

Digital slavery is what this should be called. It should be abhorred. It should be vilified. It should not be tolerated. We should all be angry.

Edit: Updates for grammar and to let person I was replying to know I'm not at all upset at them or trying to direct anger their way.


>> Tangent: they are making this so much worse by using government built spectrum.

About that tangent: what makes you think of restrictec spectrum as "government-built"? It's spectrum.


One issue is that it won't be possible to have regulation that doesn't prevent Free Basics, but prevents other abuses of not having net neutrality.

Such as having lots of subsets of the internet being offered for free or cheap, and the real internet being gradually priced out of the range of most people(citing 'infrastructure costs" of course). This can't be prevented as long as there's a loophole for Free Basics in the net neutrality regulation.


> Its a choice between having facebook, or having no internet at all.

So.. a choice between having no internet with a chance to be part of the effort to destroy it and having no internet ?

It is critical to understand that there can be no internet without net neutrality, if you support in any way a choice that goes against net neutrality, you're taking part in destroying the internet.


Is the lack of Internet truly that bad? India, while woefully poor in many places, is perhaps the most spiritually rich nation I have ever known. For all the stresses of life and distortions of industrialization, let alone internetification, they have far more inner resolve than most of us in the pill-popping West. To say that they have nothing if they reject an inch-wide glimpse of the Internet, provided by a company which is the face of corporate survellience, no less, smacks of the arrogant notion that more is always better. The Buddha found satisfaction by rejecting the material life, after all.


Ya, who needs to know the price of rice or fertilizer? Certainly not Indian farmers; they can eat inner peace. And who needs to learn algebra? Certainly not rural children; they already know the meaning of life.

Free Basics isn't the answer, but going from no-internet to just-a-tiny-bit-of-internet can have a big impact on someones life.


> Certainly not rural children

Funnily enough, having worked for a while on projects in rural Maharashtra, the children are the path to information for those villages - they're the ones who can read and write and know the prices and share information upwards to the adults.

(the conclusion being, back then, that one should market to children...)


It may be spiritual but it's also pretty fucked up in many ways not unrelated to the spirituality like bride burning, killing people who marry into the wrong cast, leading the world in modern slavery (14 million in the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery) and in malutrition (nearly double that of Sub Saharan Africa, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malnutrition_in_India). I think banning those people from a free if a bit crappy internet service because the well off are offended by the idea of it being provided by Facebook is dubious.


Get one thing straight. Free Basics is not about "bringing up" the poor. And among the "well off" are those who were poor once and have used knowledge from the internet to be wise enough to realize what is going on. Free Basics, if allowed to remain, will become a gatekeeper to the internet and will essentially become a barrier to entry to other services


Minus: might become a barrier to entry to other services

Plus: provides "some" internet for a billion people ... including wikipedia and various info apps. Includes photo sharing, chat, ...

Which of these is more important ? That's the big question being discussed here. And of course the people discussing how this might stand in the way of their future profits feel absolutely no need to provide an alternative ...


>Plus: provides "some" internet for a billion people ... including wikipedia and various info apps. Includes photo sharing, chat, ...

Chat, fb, etc is free for now, because Facebook "allows" it to be free. Once everyone is on free basics, they can do a U-turn and say only Facebook messenger, Facebook website, Facebook * is free. What are you going to do then?

What prevents them from doing this?

Letting FB or any company be a gatekeeper to net is wrong on so many levels. There are so many devious things they can do and we as people or other companies will be totally helpless.


Point 1: FB can't U-turn. Only the local telcos can do that. Judging by history they will in fact do that.

Point 2: FB is not a gatekeeper in free basics. FB simply provides a convenient door for the local telcos to open.

Point 3: The telcos, better known as the Indian government's corrupt cronies (meaning the Indian government gave ownership away to specific individuals), were, are, and will be the gatekeepers.

Making it slightly more difficult for some multinationals (other social networks, MS, linkedin, ...) to make profits in the future does not justify taking this away. If you feel this is unfair, then either convince the Indian government to provide your brand of free internet. I'm sure the amount of money that requires is a factor 10 less of what you'd think it is, which of course still makes it half a billion dollars or so.

In case you've missed it somehow. The internet is centralizing. That's the whole point of the cloud. That is what's being defended here. You're just defending one company centralizing against another. Amazon (including ec2), Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Oracle, ... all are centralized computing platforms that give you zero say in how your software runs, how your data is kept, and you can bet your ass all of these will lock you out. That is the thing they all agree on.

You seem to think this hasn't happened yet, but think about it. This has happened, it's too late.


Give them access to the full internet. Anything less is disengenuous. They're going to end up using Facebook anyway, unless someone ends up making the Indian VK. Can't let the possibility of innovation conflict with profit forecasts...


I don't understand why all or nothing is a reasonable demand. If that's your demand, then pay up or otherwise convince the telcos like fb has. What's wrong with that?

I do understand why telcos won't give all internet for free. In fact I'm amazed fb got them to allow any chat app at all, given that it'll kill SMS.

What I'm asking is why is potentially raising entry costs in the Indian market worth, morally speaking, denying internet to millions of people?


What do pills have to do with this?

The Internet is a global communications network. It allows you to connect with anyone anywhere on the planet and nearby space. Without access youbare severely limited in what you can learn and do.


the main problem is that you cant beat "free", Facebook will kill the incentive for deploying internet at rural areas, and some day they will only have facebook and will be tied to it...


Internet is not a panacea, or all good solution. Sometimes restricted internet, (especially when it's restricted by someone, who has no stake/skin-in-the-game for your growth) can do more harm than no internet. You're not recognizing the risk* of habit-forming facebook addiction to the poor.

* -- Perhaps you could try tracking your time and see how much of it you spend on facebook. I recommend rescuetime.com


Some access is better than no access but some types of "some access" are better than other types of "some access".


"some access" is demonstrably harmful if it leads to the ultimate curtailment of availability of "full access".


Demonstrably? Curious, has this ever happened in a relatively free market without a full-access competitor showing up?


>Its a choice between having facebook, or having no internet at all. >Surely no internet at all, is the worst option.

But that's such a slippery slope to go on.

What prevents other companies to hop on the bandwagon to provide their own services for free?

And one day, lo and behold, we're on an Internet where the cost of entry to compete with the big blue (or any big gun) is almost insurmountable.


The point you are missing is that it's not about

> "having no internet at all"

because what Facebook is offering is anything but the Internet. It's not even close to being the Internet.

It is Facebook's walled garden which they control, they decide what lives there and what remains, what gets kicked out.

You know what is worse, it is not that Facebook is providing something that is not the Internet, but the worse is - it will give a precedence to such business practices that may effectively kill the Internet as a medium, as we know it today, in India and turn it into the cable company model commodity where we have to buy packs of "access X, Y, Z services at speed A", or even "access sites X, Y, K" when there is another pack "X, K, M services pack".

It will affect innovations, new services in a drastic manner. Can you imagine what the status of Facebook would have been if the Internet all over the world was in a way that provided Orkut for free because Google paid for it by including it in its "Google Free Basics" pack? I don't think Facebook would have been here at all.

Now, let's say Amazon arrived in India before Flipkart, Snapdeal (Indian e-commerce portals) and jumped on an "India Free Basics" plan and now people have free access to Amazon but this guy in Bangalore who started Flipkart couldn't afford to jump on that "India Free Basics" because hey, they didn't have deep pockets from the beginning. The list of what-if examples can be endless here, I just hope you get the idea.

> Nobody else is going to give full internet to them for free.

Indian Govt actually provides highly subsidised Internet in rural areas and is working to make it more accessible. And ideas like Facebook Free Basics are actually going to harm such initiative by the Govt giving them a reason that people already have "Free Basics". I mean not saying this is how it's gonna end up exactly but let Facebook and Network operators have their way right now and something similar is waiting for us in the future. Sounds like a mild dystopian story? Well, read about "license raj" in India and related stories.

> They will be stuck with nothing.

No, they won't. They will get the Internet, maybe few months, or a couple of years down the line - slowly (and this is already happening) which is better than not getting "the Internet" ever, or when it's too late.

By the way, what stops Facebook from kicking WikiPedia and Khan Academy out (let's just say they are there) later on and rather bring Snapchat, Vine and Instagram in its place? Now, you may say it's better to watch cat gifs and share selfies than having "no Internet at all", where again you'll be missing the point that "this is NOT the Internet" and that line of thinking is unfortunate in my humble opinion.

A lot of these points have been covered in these videos by a local standup comedy group (in order): https://youtu.be/mfY1NKrzqi0, https://youtu.be/W0w_YhZUYeA, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAQWsTFF0BM


I'm surprised Facebook is actually wanting this to happen. Being the poor man's internet seems to me like a sure way to kill a brand, quite a gamble!


Wrong. Having no internet at all is better than having some. When you talk about internet it usually means all of it.


This seems to be a upping the ante from Facebook, as a response to the earlier petitions against internet.org and zero-rated apps.

I feel so angry at their persistence in this case. My feeling at this time is for the SaveTheInternet petitioners to also up the ante in return, by starting a movement to get people off Facebook.

As such it was lucky that WhatsApp founders did not have the bxxls to wait another year, when they could have acquired FB instead. All my school friends use WhatsApp more over here. And recently I am seeing increasing no. of people sign up on Telegram. (WhatsApp groups suck, that's another story, but kind of suggest that social networks are far from done. FB is perhaps the version 0.1 in social network maturity)

We should convey a clear message to Facebook, play fair or pack up. Early. I am glad I did not login to that stupid thing for over 3 months now.

PS: I have signed this petition as well as at least one earlier. I request other people based in India to do the same.

edit: minor


Indian here. I feel so enraged that they're doing this right in our face!

The messaging is extremely misleading.

How do we up the ante against Facebook? This is just not done.


>How do we up the ante against Facebook? This is just not done.

One way, I can think of is to quit Facebook altogether[1], if Free basics is passed by TRAI. Yesterday I saw a bit of momentum on Indian twitter, and last date is 30th, so hopefully even this 3rd attempt now, can be defeated. Lets see. Good to see more of my fellow country mates feel the same way.

To Downvoters: Can you please allow us to have a civil discussion. See we are determining the future of our country. If you must do so, do. But please also explain, why you don't like what we are talking. Please.

edit: minor

edit 2: [1] Should have explained that this quitting should be en masse. Ideally, all the folks who signed the SaveTheInternet.in petition should quit, and urge their friends also to quit. It will be noticed by media for sure. Already AIB has a nice video ('aib save the internet part 3' on YouTube). Vishal Dadlani has a nice 2 minutes video in Hindi, calling out Facebook's fraud on this. I don't think people will take this lying down, if free basics is allowed. Or that's what I hope for, and I am willing to make my small contribution of quitting FB, and urging my friends to do so. If SaveTheInternet folks decide for it, should it be needed.


Wait...

"internet services like ... farming"?


This is just gross.


It doesn't sound any different than what Facebook does regularly. "X likes Y, do you want to like it?", ask X in person, they never liked Y.

Facebook, despite the fact I use it, is a slimy ad platform that creates stories at the expense of those that use it. I mean they "market their customer usage".

I've yet to see an explanation for the fictitious likes.


pg often defends Zuckerberg, it would be interesting to see his take on the this particular matter.


I'd prefer to hear the unadulterated version as well. It seems like most publications are ran through various filters and handlers before it makes it out to his website.


heck they have even started Youtube adverts now! http://imgur.com/FqrQQm4 How can we face such a force who has every means of media communication to dupe people?


From my Indian friends on Facebook, it appears Facebook is showing messages that certain friends of yours are supporting, or signed up for Facebook basics, even if they never did anything of the sort.

It's creepy, and messed up.

Edit: (Leaving the original post untouched), it appears Facebook will show you as having supported Free Basics if you clicked polls which seemed completely unrelated (as the original article points out, polls about "Connected India" for example. Still quite a distance from having supported Free basics, which is what Facebook appears to show.


Ah yes, the new propaganda of the 21st century: the corporations try to convince you that all your friends are supporting their proposals, and so, you should too. It works. The single most important thing for most humans is being accepted by their confederates.

Pay close attention: the corporations have no scruples about manipulating you to get their way, and Facebook is no exception.

A conciliatory response to this deception from Zuck himself is warranted; this kind of lie-distribution (to over a billion people) shouldn't be accepted quietly. Furthermore, if Zuck wants his philanthropy efforts to succeed, lying to a billion people to support his company is going to torpedo it.


> convince you that all your friends are supporting their proposals

This is a serious problem, because China already showed us the end game of this tactic with Sesame Credit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHcTKWiZ8sI


Might be the last straw for me, time to shut down the old facebook account.


My friends kind of know me as a supporter of net neutrality and I was horrified when two of them shared with me their notification screenshots which was showing me as supporting Facebook "Free Basics".


Please post those screenshots with your denial as widely as possible to expose how scammy all this is.


I did that on Facebook and on Twitter as well with added text in the image as commentary. Hell, I even called some of my friends and asked them to do the same.

People here defend Facebook's actions what they don't realise is "motive", "intentions" and the modus operandi to achieve the goal. Facebook's actions and ethics are screaming foul play on steroids here.


Can you give a link to your tweet here?


Hi, I kind of keep that Twitter username/ID and this one separate but please have a look at https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaveTheInternet and you'll find many similar ones.


Would you mind linking to a copy of the screenshot here? (with your name etc. blacked out -- I just want to see what the notification looks like)


Even if this is entirely well-intentioned, which is certainly up for debate, it sets a precedent that will eventually see the world's most powerful media corporations become gatekeepers of the internet.

The web has been so successful because of any one of us can fire up a text editor and create the next phenomenon without spending a single dollar or seeking anyone's permission.

This is not charity, it is a coup d'état.


Let us not judge from Intellectual Ivory towers, the facts on the ground are 80% of Indians do not have internet access. You sometimes have to try "impure" methods. The question is still up in the air, whether FB Basics is gateway to full internet or if it is a walled garden. Either way, it is better than No Access. The immediate retort I get is, why not facebook provide free internet access to poor. Guys, is it their responsibility to give internet connection without any thing in return? How about asking that to your IAS uncle? or Politician neighbor.

The Net Neutrality activists of India, are bunch of middle class disconnected from poor activists. They think their idealogical purity is paramount than a dirty limited connection for the poor.

I am afraid populism will one more time win the day, while NN activists take a victory lap, the India's poor now will not have any form of connectivity.


> Let us not judge from Intellectual Ivory towers,

Labeling someone who disagrees with you as being in an "ivory tower" is basically an ad-hominem. Argue the merits, not the source.

> the facts on the ground are 80% of Indians do not have internet access. You sometimes have to try "impure" methods. The question is still up in the air, whether FB Basics is gateway to full internet or if it is a walled garden. Either way, it is better than No Access.

What if a pharma company came and said, "you know, this medicine causes birth defects, but it's OK to push it on Indians because 80% lack decent medication"... would you be for it?

India is making tremendous progress in bringing connectivity to the people. I grew up in an India where telephones were so scarce, that the waiting list for a landline phone was more than 10 years. People in villages had absolutely no access to phones at all; reaching a phone meant taking a bus/train to the nearest big town, and going to a PCO.

And yet today, almost everyone has a cellphone.

By pushing this "walled garden" to the people, FB will capture the market and derail the train of progress. FB has the ability to pay local carriers; but does HN?


> What if a pharma company came and said, "you know, this medicine causes birth defects, but it's OK to push it on Indians because 80% lack decent medication"... would you be for it?

If you replace "birth defects" (which imply a complicated moral issue of mother vs baby) with "nasty side effects", and assume that without this medication 80% of population would suffer a fate objectively worse than these side-effects (like loss of hearing vs death) — why the hell not?


What Facebook is offering is not internet in any form. Their advertisement has made this an argument into subset of internet vs full internet which is not the case here. Arguably getting tied up into the walled garden of Facebook is worse than the prospect of full access to internet at sometime in future.


I apologize if I came across condescending, I was try to set contrast here. For the activists its an intellectual/idealogical crusade, and for the poor people it is a way of life thing.

On other note, there are desperate patients and families who are willing to risk their health and are trying hard to get access to drugs that are in clinical trails even in OECD countries.


You should really think before spouting off, and you should honestly admit if you're biased in this instance.

I've followed India's cellular revolution with interest, seeing (as I mentioned earlier) I grew up when India had almost no phones. My dad, due to his work, always had a phone; and I, being the youngest, was the errand-boy, running to distant houses to tell people that there was a phone call for them, and that the caller would call back in 20 minutes, so please can you come quickly?

The reason cellphones took off in India is that the government tried (some would say, not hard enough) to level the playing field and to remove barriers. What if you could make calls on Reliance to only Reliance folks? Or what if Airtel charged you Rs. 20/min for calls to Docomo, but Rs 1/min to calls on Airtel? This kind of balkanization would be disastrous to the cellphone users.

Similarly, if you want internet use to spread, you cannot do that by placing barriers and toll gates all around. It has to be unfettered access. Sure, this "basics" thing may be available right _now_ ; but users will then be locked into one mode of operation forever.

People who are arguing against FB are not just "intellectuals"; but people who have a lot of experience. I, for one, remember when the first Internet line to India was hooked up: it was a 56K modem, a Trailblazer. For the entire country of India. From there, we have come to terabits/sec fibre lines. So yes, I do know something about the Internet.


> You should really think before spouting off, and you should honestly admit if you're biased in this instance.

The ivory tower comment which you complained about up-thread read to me as "this is a possible cognitive mistake we might make, let us avoid it" (note that it used the word "us").

On the other hand, there is no charitable reading of the first line of your comment. It's just nasty, much nastier than the even the worst reading of the ivory-tower comment.

>:(


I agree with jholman and Sreemani here. I dont see the pharma analogy, because rest of the 20% of the internet users are not forced to pay for something (Even though there may or may not be questions about anti-competitiveness, but that is not what we are arguing here...its net neutrality). If they dont like Reliance agreement with FB, they can switch carriers.

In the US an analogy that I can think of is obamacare, where everybody was forced to pay a certain amount of money as TAX so that the whole country is insured.... I dont see the same argument here.


> What if you could make calls on Reliance to only Reliance folks? Or what if Airtel charged you Rs. 20/min for calls to Docomo, but Rs 1/min to calls on Airtel?

What if Facebook gave everybody in India free phones and free calling, even if it was only on Facebook phones? Would anyone have to be the errand boy for their neighbors' calls?

I don't see how your experience where most could not afford any access (let alone restricted access) to basic telephony applies to this scenario where a restricted service is being given for free.

(I also spent my childhood vacations in rural areas where our house was the only one with a phone for miles around. And even then they would trouble us only for issues of some urgency. I have a hard time believing any of the people who'd walk all the way over would prefer doing that over getting a free but restricted phone service.)


> I don't see how your experience where most could not afford any access (let alone restricted access) to basic telephony applies to this scenario where a restricted service is being given for free.

You're missing the point completely. My point is: we are on the path to progress. It's going the right way for the future of the people. But Facebook wants to derail it and lock you into their ecosystem. In the long run, this is detrimental for everyone.

People who are here, posting for FB, obviously have internet freedom; so what they're basically saying is, the poor should not have the same freedoms that I am enjoying.


And my point is, people who are here, posting against FB's initiative, obviously have Internet, which the poor don't even have, let alone Internet freedom. So what they're basically saying is, the poor should not have the same facilities that I am enjoying, because I am worried about them being locked-in and I know better than them what they want.


I will be honest the person arguing with you was literally there. He grew up there. He probably knows better than you about the environment he grew up in. It's disingenuous to paint him in the light you're doing.


The Airtel/Docomo analogy has been played out in the US. ATT Wireless calls to other ATT Wireless subscribers are considered mobile-to-mobile and don't count towards the minutes limit. Same for the rest of the major carriers, so families who chat a lot frequently pick carriers strategically (the balkanization you're describing).

Overall, it has not caused any major disasters.


And the equivalent Facebook solution to the drug problem would be "Hey, we don't need to do clinical trials, because some medicine is better than no medicine, since there are desperate people who are willing to accept anything right now".


You mean, like the right-to-try laws that have been passed by 25 US states, allowing doctors to prescribe drugs not yet approved by the FDA?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-try_law


You still need a different form of FDA approval possibly involving animal trials (among other things) before getting "experimental drug" status.


It's ridiculous that if I'm dying, I'm not free to use whatever experimental, theoretical, long-shot treatment that I damn well want.


Right, because the wrong kind of Internet access could kill people.


Not really, no. But you kinda got the idea: the wrong kind of network access could kill the internet.

This is the whole net neutrality issue. No net neutrality, no internet.


Maybe in the US, where there is a duopoly for the last-mile access for a large number of markets. Highly doubt it will happen in India because of the very rich, competitive Internet access market, as TFA points out.


Worse. It could be seen as something positive and then Netflix could be more expensive.


Poor people are there everywhere in the world. It's just surprising that Facebook decided to help the poor in India before doing anything for the poor in the US. Especially given the fact that the data costs are huge in US.

Facebook can decide to do what it wants,but this type of spending on propaganda trying to change the policy in India is not acceptable and maybe not even legal. Not sure,but would it be allowed for an Indian company to take out full page ads in NYT against the raise in H1B visa fees?


Mark Zukerberg donated $100 million to Newark Schools, which I think is helping economically backward students. Internet penetration in US is huge, and there are several subsidies in place esp. in urban areas. Internet connectivity problems in US are mostly for rural and geographically distant locations. So comparing US vs India especially based on per KB costs does not give complete picture and MZ, told again again the mission of facebook is "connecting people" (that was nokia's tag line ;D )

There are full page ads in India for all sorts of things. Damn, if shell enough money, they would put a full page ad about my post in Hacker News. NYT and WaPo are in a different ball park, but they too at times are open to full page ads, what is illegal about that?


> Mark Zukerberg donated $100 million to Newark School...

With some quite interesting results and consequences[1], you can't just drop a big bunch of monies on soomething expect it to solve itself or be successful.

[1]:http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/05/19/schooled


You are arguing that an ad hominem attack is by defacto incorrect. Ad hominem attacks provide context and explain how your point of view can be clouded or misguided.

Ad hominem attacks have been and always will be useful tools in debates.

Example: If you are rich and believe that the poor are lazy and always asking for handouts, it would be beneficial for someone to make an ad hominem attack towards your character and background as a wealthy person to help you see why your statements are biased.


"ivory tower" is reflective of content and delivery, not just source


> is basically an ad-hominem. Argue the merits, not the source.

It's not always ad-hominem. It might seem so because of the obvious tone used but at certain times it could just be that the context that a person is coming from could have a really significant impact on his reasoning (for or against).


> Either way, it is better than No Access.

I see this as a false dilemma. Internet access in India is already cheap enough to be near the cost of a phone over its effective lifetime. To quote the linked post:

> Given that data packages cost as little as Rs. 20 a month while phones cost Rs. 2,000 and up, we think their thesis itself is flawed

So the group that free basics can help to get online are those for whom the cost of a phone is feasible but paying the cost of a phone ×2 or ×3 for internet access is not. This is a relatively narrow fraction of the population.

Activists in India see that there are other reasonable alternatives to connect the entire population of the country that do not encourage the digital enslavement of their poor. The simplest one is a marginal improvement of per capita income that is driven by the people of the country itself, not exploitative "charity" from a foreign company. In very short order this, and the decreasing cost of technology will allow the whole net to reach everyone who could benefit today from free basics.

The false dilemma "better this than nothing" comes from a distant ivory tower that does not respect the capacity and future of the people of these developing nations. There are other ways to full access that do not sacrifice human rights.


> India is already cheap enough to be near the cost of a phone

Indians are very frugal, if they bought the phone, then that's the end of it. They won't even spend a single penny to buy the Internet.. Only way is to give it for free and let them experience the usefulness and long term effect.

How to give for free? That's up for debate.


How about slow or even limited amount of data but full internet? Result of that would be people making websites that use minimal data. Result of FB-only internet is everyone putting everything on FB, effectively shutting out anyone not on FB and giving insane power to FB.


it would be better but then the question comes to sponsership, who would sponser such a thing?


A non-asshole, non-monopolist version of Facebook would be a company that would sponsor such a thing along with ads saying "brought to you by Facebook!" or something but no technical restrictions to FB. It's still in their interest to get more people online. It could be a consortium of companies. Or it could be the government, that would make reasonable sense. Or it could just be the phone companies saying that a little internet is a good way to get people to then pay for more bandwidth…


This is an extremely short-sighted view. There is no question that connectivity is a vital resource necessary for equality and that we want everyone to have access to the internet. The question is how we expand the network to them and — most importantly — who pays for it?

A network paid for by foreign business interests and advertisers is fundamentally different than a network paid for by its users. But even though the foundation is different, they are in many ways substitute goods, meaning the presence of one will inhibit the popularity of the other. By the most basic economic reasoning, Free Basics will hurt the spread of user-funded peer-to-peer networks like the internet, just as distributing free clothing will hurt a local textile industry.

Based on that model, we can also predict the more fundamental difference between the two networks to be in the details w.r.t. privacy interests, not limited access.


http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/aircel-to-...

There are better ways of giving out Internet for free. By giving out slower internet. Or internet with a free data cap. Or a way of "earning" Internet data after watching some ads (see: Grameenphone in Bangladesh). I'd somewhat agree with the "Some Internet is better than No internet" argument, except that there are better ways of doing the "some Internet" which Facebook isn't doing.

> why not facebook provide free internet access to poor.

Facebook isn't even paying for the data in Free Basics. The telecom operators are (I assume their business plan is to get more people hooked onto the Internet so eventually more customers for them. A valid plan.). They can use the same business plan (in a net neutral way) for the slower internet or internet with a data cap options; and I believe that's what Aircel is doing.

(Aside: When you look at it this way it becomes even more obvious how devious Facebook is here -- without putting in money of their own to finance the actual data, they, a third party, jumped in and convinced telecom operators to enact a scheme which Facebook has a lot of control over despite not being the primary financers of the scheme. They get lots of credit and lots of control, without actually doing anything. When framed this way the parallels with the Brits' takeover of India seem a lot more real.)

And really, the "no access" part of your argument isn't really well founded either. For most, data plan costs aren't the barrier to internet access (in fact, a smartphone capable of working with the modern internet[1] is more expensive than a few years' worth of basic data).

[1]: Fun fact: Facebook's mobile app evolves pretty fast and becomes unusable on older phones either due to browser compatibility, OS compatibility, or speed issues. Same with many other sites and apps.


I agree on most points but the one about the app, why fb should support devices discontinued from the manufacturers that aren't receiving updates to last version of their own os?

They already support a truckload of configurations as it is.


I'm not talking about discontinued devices. I'm talking about devices which are too slow for the "modern web".

(Also, for many low-end phones, updates come infrequently and OS updates are not always easy to install)


The problem is once you've tried this "impure" method there is no turning back. Once an ISP finds out they can offer some apps free but make other apps count towards data usage, the whole nature of the internet changes. Note that zero-rating is just one aspect of what mobile networks want to do; before the explosive activism in March, they were being more flagrant and trying to charge extra for each WhatsApp message or add extra charges for Skype calls.


>The problem is once you've tried this "impure" method there is no turning back. Once an ISP finds out they can offer some apps free but make other apps count towards data usage, the whole nature of the internet changes.

No it doesn't. There used to be free WhatsApp + Facebook/Twitter access over 3G/GSM here in Brazil for a year or so, NOTHING changed, except the poor could communicate with their friends for free and people spent less. Then came net neutrality* and now people have to pay to STILL only use social networks to communicate, like they did before the free plans and like they'll keep doing. Get a bus here and all you see people doing is chatting via WhatsApp or Messenger, even though they can access whatever they want for the same price.

As some other commenter mentioned, NN crusaders frequently seem like people who can afford data plans and have no contact with reality on a moral crusade about something they have no idea how it would or wouldn't work IRL.

* there are still some plans where you get "free WhatsApp", but you have to pay for the plan itself and the "free Whatsapp" part has something to do with your data cap ending and still being able to use services with low bandwidth.


Okay a few things:

1) I understand that people want free WhatsApp (etc), but I can't base internet policy on crowning WhatsApp as a free service. Indeed my whole position is that ISPs should not price-discriminate based on apps.

2) The fact that people used WhatsApp, Facebook & Twitter when they were zero-rated and continued to do so even when they are paid doesn't detract from my point about zero-rating being a unique advantage, quite the opposite.

3) Picking three services with strong network effects over the course of a few years is not what I meant about the fundamental nature of the internet. The point is that before WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter got popular, during their early growth, these apps and their users benefited from net neutrality. If apps become zero-rated over the long term their incumbency changes the nature of the internet from the state it was in when they were released.


If it weren't for NN, you wouldn't have any of those apps that you're so fond of. Once you have to pay to reach people, it becomes cost prohibitive to start any large scale for startups.


> The problem is once you've tried this "impure" method there is no turning back.

AOL and CompuServe are good counter-points.


Why is there no turning back? Why not let people choose for themselves instead of limiting choices you don't think are good for them?


So you’re fine with the idea that every time you load news​.ycombi​na​tor​.com your ISP charges you $0.10 extra, but if you load TMZ​.com it’s free? That would not be “the internet” in my books, and I’m glad that across the world, from Obama & the FCC to India, people are standing steadfast to endorse net neutrality.

As for why there’s no turning back: for most of the internet’s history we’ve had ‘de facto’ net neutrality so we can codify the regulations without disruption. As soon as ISPs get habituated to pricing usage based on the app, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.


> That would not be “the internet” in my books

Which is why you are free to take your business to another ISP that does no such shenanigans.


Well, in the US at least not many rural people (and some city people) do not have access to multiple ISPs. I have comcast up to 120 mbps, or att for 6mbps. So I need to sell my house if I want to drop comcast.


As with Bittorrent, the solution may simply be VPNs.


how would that help? the free sites are on a whitelist; vpns simply mean you pay for everything.


1) This was in response to firasd's alarmist argument about ISPs charging differently based on what sites you access, not the Internet.org thing.

2) There are free VPNs out there. I am not sure how trustworthy they are, but people I know have been using them for ages.


The current campaign in which Facebook v.s. net neutrality activists are asking people to write in to TRAI (and the other stages of this campaign over the last year) is about exactly what I described. The regulator's consultation paper is not specifically about internet.org, it's about differential pricing in general. Like I said, before the activism, ISPs were already declaring they'd charge extra for messaging and VOIP, so it's not 'alarmist', it's planned and declared.


Free VPNs do not mean that ISP's won't charge you for the data.


Isn't that happening on T-Mobile as we speak in US, and yet people are moving in droves cutting their broadband to mobile Internet. I am for Net Neutrality in general, course correction is and has been always a part of regulation and I acknowledge it is slow, but let it play out.


Yeah T-​Mobile just started doing this—decades after the web was created—and it’s already causing problems (Youtube counts towards data, and Netflix doesn't, so now Google is concerned that T-Mobile is downgrading Youtube resolution.)

I promise you that in this sort of Internet, Facebook would have had an even more uphill contest against MySpace. Mark should let Indians have the same Internet he had.


> the facts on the ground are 80% of Indians do not have internet access

The facts on the ground for everywhere in the world not too long ago was worse than 20% access to the Internet. And I bet the current 20% Indian Internet users have much much faster connections than dial-up.

Things change. Fast. It is disingenuous to ignore the natural connectivity growth trajectory and focus on today's number only. Most will get connected to the Internet, with or without Facebook's "help" soon. The danger is with Facebook's "help", they'll get connected to FBNet (Free Basics Network, aka ZuckNet), diverting them away from connecting to the real Internet.


Absolutely. I have been living in Cambodia for quite a while now, and despite overall adoption still being just above India's, connectivity is exploding here too.

"Internet use in Cambodia grew a staggering 414 per cent since January 2014"

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/cambodians-flock-net

It's exciting to see. Most people in Phnom Penh have a smart phone, and I meet more and more full-fledged computer nerds and Cambodian programmers all the time. I have no doubt that Cambodia will be fully connected within 5 or max 10 years, without the "help" of Facebook.


This is a repeat of AOL's playbook in the US in the 90's. Sure the internet existed and the web was around, but they were more interested in pushing their curated online service.


I know, it's terrible. AOL took control of the internet, closed it off to all but the highest bidders, and is holding back progress.

Oh wait...


The question is still up in the air, whether FB Basics is gateway to full internet or if it is a walled garden.

I think it's a gateway to popularising tunneling; as long as FB lets those using FB Basics and those accessing FB from the full Internet communicate, you can still send information through. It's just like using FB as a proxy. Given that and what I know about Indian ingenuity, I predict a lot more hacks like this will appear:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9203946

So I suppose in some respects you could think of FB Basics as a very heavily throttled full Internet connection. You could even argue that FB and all the other companies giving "free" non-net-neutral access is driving incentive to hack around these restrictions, which I think is not at all a bad thing.


It isn't realistic to think that this will drive any noticeable amount of proxying/tunneling traffic. Not even close to realistic.


Facebook is not doing this for altruistic reasons.


Good. Look at all of the good all of the altruistic foreign aid has done for the poor nations of the world. In case you aren't aware, it hasn't done much good at all, and often does a lot of harm by perpetuating corruption and undermining local markets. Capitalism is the most successful anti-poverty program in history the world. Facebook has found a way to make money by providing connectivity to a billion people. What a triumph.


Facebook is not being altruistic here, and there's no such as thing as free. Whenever a merchant offers "free shipping," they're just manipulating the customer and the cost is built in elsewhere.

When facebook offers "free internet," whatever benefits it provides, the cost is hidden and built in elsewhere in Facebook's business model. Which means such a free internet that facebook is supposedly altruistically providing is actually being paid for elsewhere, whether in higher ad costs for India or some other area of their business.

This means facebook is essentially skirting net neutrality by indrectly paying for people to only have access to Facebook.

This is on top of anticompetitiveness of the move. Giving anything away for free destroys natural competition in the ecosystem. See the case of TOM's shoes giving away free shoes and destroying local shoemakers.[1]

Their tactics here makes it justifiable for a country like China to block Facebook. Imagine if Facebook took over China, and started blasting political messages with ulterior motives to 2+ billion people, trying to influence them for corporate gain.

[1] http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/10/economic...


I'm not sure you read my comment.


Facebook is a foreign entity going into a less developed market. It is overpowered, using its power to influence local government, and also has the power to destroy the local markets with their "free" option much like handing out free shoes to impoverished African countries.

Competition is good, but Facebook has the power to completely destroy and monopolize local industries if unchecked (in less developed economies at least).


Except for the fact that Facebook is not providing any connectivity here. It is simply access to the walled garden that is Facebook. It is not internet in any form, not even the subset.


You are mistaken. Facebook will be one of the services offered on this platform, but anyone can apply to have their web service included. But even if it were just Facebook, that's very much connectivity. Users would be able to message people across the world, communicate with companies and government, share their views, comment on others views, etc. It's a hell of a lot more connectivity than telegrams, phones, and television ever were.


Let's not pretend that most aid given by governments is altruistic.


> The Net Neutrality activists of India, are bunch of middle class disconnected from poor activists

Is that what you want to believe or can you back it up ? I think your statement couldn't be further from the truth.


New people connect to the Internet every day. This billion (really?) people might very well all be connected to the real Internet in ten years. Maybe this Facebook push can get them connected to FacebookNet in five years. Is that a good thing? Probably not, if history is any guide.


I agree strongly with this - its the same flawed logic when it comes to "idealistic democracy in the middle east".

Once the poor have some access to social media - it will automatically generate demand for more and better services.


Can you back up either of your bullshit statements?


On the ethics of this,

I'd like to know of the engineers/team in the chain of command who is responsible for the "Something went wrong" flag set on savetheinternet.in : http://i.imgur.com/K3JUack.png

Clearly this flag was not set on the grounds of pornography/violent matter/malicious link. This flag was instead set on a what is political speech, representing activists from a large swath of a democratic nation.

Consider how big of an attack this is on speech. Consider if a prominent website of any other political thought were thus flagged, and warned users away from.

To any folks from facebook reading this: please point out the team/engineers and the whole chain of command responsible for this flag -- this suppression is not a tiny thing.


The original article link to http://www.SaveTheInternet.in is actually to http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.SaveTheIntern...

That looks like a link where facebook has replaced the link to the website with their own URL for tracking purposes. As a consequence they have to prevent open redirect attacks - https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Open_redirect .

Yes the same system can be used for censorship - but facebook can do that anyway because you're sharing links through a platform they have total control over.

The irony (of using a facebook tracking url to promote an anti-facebook site) is beautiful.


Hey, that's my screenshot. I can't edit my comment below any more but I think this is misleading – other links to savetheinternet.in work fine from facebook (try it yourself). There are a lot of other scammy things going on that are more important than this small technical issue, I'd delete my comment if I could.


they were even suppressing a popular Indian youtube comedy channel's take on this issue when it was released. And yes, fb does internally censor things which they dont like, for eg they were actively blocking tsu.co, a rival social network url in their platform until it hit the media and they had to backtrack


Coming from a rural farming community in India i think this is a very bad deal. I speak with my folks when i visit India about how they use technology. The use cases are very practical such as turning off/on the pumpset, since the fields are far and the power comes and goes at different times, this kind of app is amazing. I can think of similar use cases once IoT takes off. ex: Checking the water levels in paddy fields (The crabs make holes and if you are out of luck all the water is gone, resulting in midnight trips to fields to make sure everything is fine). The startups which might provide these kind of services will do well only if the internet is free, else FB will build its own apps to do this. FB will have a monopoly over the future use cases. The last thing my folks back home need is to play farmville or poke at each other or put booty shots in instagram :)


It seems kind of a mixed deal for that stuff. Apparently you can submit your app to use free basics and stuff like you mention should qualify. On the other hand it's easier to put a service on the regular web than to have to apply to Facebook. Actually hacking free basics might be good for things like checking the water levels - you could get a cheap phone pointed at the tank with an app to look at the water, use Facebook's data and enjoy the knowledge that that phone isn't going to be pokeing or candy-crushing.

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/internet-org/participat...


I am weary of the gatekeepers, they can change the rules when they want. What would really help from a long term perspective is to provide very low cost data plans, this might not happen if we go the free basics route since telcos have vested interest in keeping the free basics forever by jacking up the cost of data plans.


I don’t have much to add after the last couple threads on this (my concerns boil down to the importance of net neutrality, and the obscuring way free Facebook plus a few dozen apps is presented as philanthropy) but it’s interesting that after 36 countries, as they say, “embraced” internet​.org, India may finally be where Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions run aground.

We have a specific mix of an established tech ecosystem, educated middle class, and active (though imperfect) democracy, all of which combined to spark a grassroots movement for net neutrality. I hope we can resist Facebook’s lobbying, whether visible marketing like this or backroom deals with telecom networks and governments.

P.S. Not to mention the aspect I’ve seen many people bring up: a Western corporation trying to aggressively meddle in India has an unhappy precedent.


>a Western corporation trying to aggressively meddle in India has an unhappy precedent.

Are you referring to the East India Company as the linked article does? Please be clear, I am not familiar enough with Indian history, and I've seen no-one else bring it up on this page.


> the East India Company

Companies. There were several - British, Swedish French, Dutch, Portuguese, you name it.

The British ended up taking the rest over, but practically every European colonial power had their own East India Company at one point or another (or tried to) and they all competed on how best to exploit the resources they could extract from India.


Yeah, I see people reference colonialism in general as well as the EIC in particular.


Okay, I was just curious if you meant something more recent that I was not aware of. (Not that the colonial era wasn't bad enough, mind you.)


If I understand this right, it means poor people don't actually get the Internet. They get Facebook. Ergo it's a regression back to pre-Internet "Prodigy" and "Compuserve" and "AOL" only days, for poor people. And then they get piles of ads in their face. It's not really the Internet. So is that better than nothing? I think that's up to the users to decide rather than people who have the real Internet.

But I also think it's misleading to refer to this as "digital equality" or that Facebook and friends constitutes "essential internet services." The only essential Internet service is the fucking connection to the unabridged Internet. So call it what it actually is. Don't exaggerate (lie).

EDIT: I don't use Facebook, at all. I have tons of friends who don't use it, at all. So how "essential" is it? I'm completely OK with them giving free Facebook + only whatever else they want, but it's b.s. to call this essential or basic. It's not even really free if people are getting ad bombed to pay for it.. So yeah, let people have whatever this is, it's fine, but don't lie/mislead about what it is.


http://www.savetheinternet.in - A template for contacting the authorities to show support for net neutrality (speak up against "Free Basics").

Last time, they received over a million e-mails [0], and that did have a positive effect. Let's 10x that.

[0] http://bit.ly/1YCxhlv


Facebook is doing its best to stop people from accessing this as well -- if I click a link to that website from Facebook, I get a message that seems designed to stop me from going ahead. It says, "Something Went Wrong. Sorry, there was a problem with this link: http://www.SaveTheInternet.in/ You can now continue to this website, or go back to the page you were on before. Remember, only follow links from sources you trust."


A pseudo-live count of e-mails sent to TRAI in support of #NetNeutrality

https://twitter.com/bulletinbabu


This evokes memories of colonialism. Most Indians I know are like "gtfo we don't need your help" and Zuckerberg is going like "well I'm going to help you whether you like it or not."

It is SO obvious he's doing it to make sure Facebook has a permanent hold on the huge and growing Indian market. But to disguise it as a charity, that's scummy as anything I've seen a major company do.


First let's keep affordability aside and think about this.

Internet is built on principles of neutrality. It is built on public property (airways, land) that government leases to companies on our behalf. Internet is what it is today because of this neutrality principle. It has given rise to so many companies out of nothingness and created so much opportunity for disruption and growth. So any

We do not want to turn Internet into something useless and backwards (like cable/tv networks). That is what Facebook is trying to do here by lobbying the government to change policy. This has to be stopped no question.

Now let's talk about affordability. Government should look into programs that will lower the overall cost of Internet by reforming how they license spectrum.

They can also provide free access to Internet in public places - like public schools, public libraries, train/bus stations, agri markets etc where most information hungry people who cannot afford are already there. They can also encourage large city/town center operators to provide free wifi.

All said, most poor people in India who don't have Internet are in tier-2/3 cities and villages where there is no connectivity at all today. So, it is not a question of affordability but connectivity.

Facebook is being irresponsible and evil in this case and exploiting the situation and not doing anything to help. In contrast, google recently launched a program to provide high-speed Internet free wifi in 400 train stations in India. This is the largest public wifi program in the world.


Move fast and break things vs. Don't be evil


Indian here, they even started Television ads showing zuke. It is getting out of hand. There VP of Internet org will be doing an AMA on reddit today !!


finally more people are speaking about it. its sad to see facebook revert to cheap publicity stunt tactics to get their way around. I always had a good impression of FB specially for their open source tools which I use a lot, and I really hope they can put this murky event behind them and go back to the way they were.

n.b : link to the full page ads : http://imgur.com/a/hb3nt


Really? My first encounter with facebook was when I got spammed by a guy I barely knew, along with the rest of his email address book. I've always found the company to be slimy.


The company might be super slimy, but their engineering team has made huge improvements to the modern web / app development and had gifted us with the awesome open source tools. Only because of them I had a positive outlook of the company


If you write apps for their ecosystem, you've been fucked real, but real hard at least 6 times in the last 6 years. From unkept promises to everchanging rules, terms and api.


So you dont use react, flow, presto, hhvm, buck, jest, etc.... ?


So they give away stuff that's effectively irrelevant to their business and that should cause a positive impression? You shouldn't let what might be called a Trojan Horse to change your impression of them.


For those of us without a linkedin/facebook:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https:/...


Why not let "our less fortunate brothers" decided what they want. If they don't want free internet, then its their choice. How insane is it to let the TRAI regulate the internet! Do you not see the internet is the only real means of liberating people? And you want a group of elite people to control this! What happens to the "these airwaves belong to us" argument when the government bans anti-govt web sites or porn websites or any other websites that the current elite don't agree with? Down with intelligentsia!


'Why not let the customer choose' can also be a generic argument against almost any kind of regulation. Why not have less strict regulations for food safety, or airlines, so various competitors can offer differing levels of safety - and if it matters enpugh to people, they'll choose the (more expensive) options with more safety. Is that freedom or is it capitalist anarchy?

I would argue (as many do) that government regulations have a place in enforcing basic guarantees of safety and fairness. And net neutrality strikes me as very important to guarantee fairness, both in terms of freedom of speech and a level playing field for innovation.


"Why not let [the customer] choose" is an argument that can be made of any net neutrality debate.

Should there be fast-lanes in the US?

TWC: We'll offer plans with and without fast-lanes and let the customers choose!

Either the internet is the internet or it's not. Facebook wants to bring Facebook to rural villages? Fine, but they have to bring the whole internet with them.


"Should there be fast-lanes in the US?"

Yes. Why not? Just like should there be expensive doctors, restaurants, entertainment, etc.? Obviously yes.

"Either the internet is the internet or it's not. Facebook wants to bring Facebook to rural villages? Fine, but they have to bring the whole internet with them."

My point is let the people in the rural villages decided wether they want Facebook internet or other forms of internet. Please don't decide on their behalf. It is very patronizing and antithetical to progess.


Anarchic markets/networks don't always give the best results. The regulators have an important role to play in designing a network that gives the best results to all players. Net neutrality is a good set of principles for creating a network that gives the best results for the people on the network. It's good for networks in the US and it's good for networks in India.


> Should there be fast-lanes in the US?

You mean like a company paying an ISP to place a server rack there and then reselling that server space branded as a Content Delivery Network to media companies who want their end consumers to have smoother experience (while the non-paying competition is stuck with "loading..." indicators)?

Nah, will never happen.


Over the next few years, someone should also look into how much of that "philanthropy" money is going into Internet.org from Zuckerberg - mainly because I'd hate for him to get away with most people believing he's giving away his fortune for the good of mankind, when in fact he'd just be propping up Facebook, but with fewer taxes on his money.


there was no mention of philanthropy, it was PR stunt.

All Zuckerburg did was move his wealth to a private LLC, it's the degenerate media and press that interpreted it as "philanthropy", probably to get some Likes on their FB post.


Besides his entire letter saying it was being given to charity you mean?


show me that letter

you may want to revist it

https://blogs.harvard.edu/philg/2015/12/03/is-the-new-zucker...


His 'fortune' is primarily a claim on future FB revenue. It can be wiped out at any time.


Today I learned that Indians have a word for ten million (crore).

On a more serious note this facebook campaign is an embodiment of principles elucidated Zero to One. Competition sucks, argues Mr. Thiel, try to create a monopoly. And monopoly is great if you are a business but for customers it is other way round. I hope India will preserve open and competitive internet for its citizens.

The article states that the chief aim of this campaign is to prevent Indians from using google. Are there any signs of them taking countermeasures?


In "Zero to One", (which I just finished reading yesterday), Thiel actually argued that monopolies were good for both sides of the market, so long as the monopoly was achieved through excellence, and not just corruption or government-grant.


Facebook needs to stop a homegrown Facebook alternative arising in India.

They need to stop it now, by smothering it in the crib, redirecting its potential future users into a Facebook-curated walled-garden.

Growth is required for Facebook, and India is a clear growth area, China having been largely ruled off-limits by the Chinese government.

A toehold in one of the most populous countries on the planet. Has to have the Facebook board salivating.


The dissonance between Mark Zuckerberg's letter to his daughter and stuff like this is hard to bridge.


Okay, if an activist can contemplate a program giving everyone in India who wants it 500MB a month mobile bandwidth, then I have to call out western web app developers for committing a heinous crimes against global Internet access equality.

It used to be that I could get by with a 500MB plan on my iPhone, and so long as I avoided video streaming, I'd usually use 300MB. Now I see that my Maps apps alone use that in a month, and I run out of 6GB bandwidth every month.

It's a truism that bandwidth is like highway lanes: If it's there, it will be used. But really, am I getting more functionality for the increased bandwidth? I think not.


You're blaming devs because you us 6gb a month? That is a joke. I share 15gb with 6 people in my family and we've never gone over. Obviously you are doing something out of the ordinary.


The devs must have done something, because I haven't changed how I use Maps. How is it that Maps alone is using the entire allocation of the bandwidth I used to use in a month?


Not that I want to support Microsoft, but I had the same issue until I switched to HERE (Nokia's old product). Basically I have downloaded a map of my country (~300 MB in size) and set the application to work offline. Works like a charm, does not feel like a downgrade at all.


Interestingly, Wikimedia also engages in zero-rating, through their Wikipedia Zero program. But their motivations are genuinely altruistic. (After all, it brings them no direct benefit and costs them money.)


Wikipedia is a pretty shady organization. For years they have used server costs as one of the main reasons (and in the some cases the main reason) why people should donate. But their finance reports paint a very different picture. Their server costs reflect a very small percentage of their overall costs. They ask for way more money than they actually need. More money is spent on "investments" and fundraisers than is spent on the cost of maintaining the site. Some people have also alleged purposeful backlinking to their for profit sites. That is, adding and replacing links in wikipedia pages to point to websites that the wikipedia founders profit from. So using wikipedia as an example of "genuinely altruistic" motivation is a stretch. The founders of wikipedia do not benefit directly from their work, but they certainly benefit indirectly and through false advertising.


> Wikipedia is a pretty shady organization.

Wikimedia. They do a lot more than just the encyclopædia.

> For years they have used server costs as one of the main reasons (and in the some cases the main reason) why people should donate. But their finance reports paint a very different picture. Their server costs reflect a very small percentage of their overall costs.

Server costs are not the only thing they need to spend money on. Consider their budget for 2015-2016:

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Annual_...

40% of that is spent on engineering. Someone needs to maintain MediaWiki.

~6% is spent on legal - they're a large site that has to deal with copyright issues, they need lawyers. ~15% is spent on administrative costs, as if you employ lots of people, you need to manage them.

> They ask for way more money than they actually need.

They could run on a leaner budget, yes, but it's not as if the other money they get is wasted. More money means they can hire more engineers to work on the site and improve it, for example.

> More money is spent on "investments" and fundraisers than is spent on the cost of maintaining the site.

Looking at that budget, they spend more on Engineering than on Community Engagement, Grants, Advancement, and Communications combined.

> Some people have also alleged purposeful backlinking to their for profit sites. That is, adding and replacing links in wikipedia pages to point to websites that the wikipedia founders profit from.

Could you provide evidence, or at least a credible source?


So you are going to ignore everything I said to talk about what you want to talk about? cool.

Wikipedia's financial statements are easy to find and they provide them for you: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Financial_reports#2010....

I'll go over my first point, and you can decide whether you want to continue to ignore my actual statements:

1. They use server costs to plea for donations. This is deceptive and dishonest advertising. In certain years, wikipedia abused the public's perception of server costs as their main selling point. Even when server costs are not necessarily their main selling point, they are more often than not the very first cost listed on their advertisements.

http://regmedia.co.uk/2012/11/28/wikipedia_chugging_fullsize...

If you were to poll wikipedia donators, what % of wikipedia's total costs would they think are server costs if they are going by wikipedia's advertisements?

In 2010, wikipedia states they received the following in donations: $14,490,273

They list "internet hosting" costs for that year as: $1,056,703

< 7%

In 2011, wikipedia's stated they recieved: $23,020,127

with "internet hosting" costs of: $1,799,943

< 8%

Please stop twisting my words out of love for wikipedia. Wikipedia deceives their users about where their money is actually going and asks for MILLIONS of dollars more than they actually need.


To quote from the screenshot you linked of a typical Wikimedia Foundation advertisement: [1]

"We ... have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help."

I count six costs listed there. Doesn't look like "pretty shady" advertising to me.

Also, "internet hosting costs" in the financial statements isn't all the money spent on IT-related costs. For example, computer equipment is counted as an investment which then depreciates. In the 2011 financial statements you linked, Wikimedia spent $3.2m on computer equipment and $1m on depreciation (though depreciation would also include things like furniture). [2]

You also haven't provided any evidence for your claim Wikimedia promotes "purposeful backlinking to their for profit sites".

Finally, although it's an imperfect way to analyse charities, Charity Navigator gives Wikimedia Foundation 93.5/100, an excellent score. [3]

1. http://regmedia.co.uk/2012/11/28/wikipedia_chugging_fullsize...

2. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/a/ac/FINAL...

3. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary...


I'm still mad that facebook hasn't unblocked the I Fucking Love Science page yet here in India. Why would anyone block a page about science while letting the religious bullshit/reposts runs rampant?


This album shows the kind of things Facebook is doing to push Free Basics.

http://m.imgur.com/gallery/dnAFg


The Indian poor people may be poor but they are not fools. A substandard service will not take off just like Tata Nano car for the poor failed miserably so will this Facebook initiative.


This is deception. Pure and simple. There are many different and ethical ways of providing connectivity to the poor but not at the cost of losing net neutrality.


The real question is, will facebook lobby against, and attempt to disallow, free community / coop network access ?

It's one thing to trick a bunch of poor people into thinking you're giving them free Internet access ... it's still free.

It's quite another to then shackle them by manipulating their legal system into disallowing any other free options.

I have a lot on my plate right now, but it sure would be interesting to do a very small scale proof of concept free wifi mesh anywhere in India ... just to see who that pisses off ... I see my favorite bulk IP provider (he.net) has zero presence in India, so that doesn't make things quick and simple ... we'll see ...


Hundreds of millions of people in India don't even have access to electricity, let alone internet. The Indian government is extremely corrupt and over-regulating. They have failed to bring modernity to a billion people. That's the context here. From what I can tell, Free Basics is a market solution that will allow a bunch of self-interested parties to bring connectivity to people who would probably never get it otherwise.

If there are all of these other alternatives, why doesn't someone set them up as a competitor to Free Basics. No one would use a limited service like Free Basics if they had free access to "real" internet access.


What makes you think Free Basics is doing anything about electricity or connectivity? It is just zero-rating for Facebook & partner apps, riding on top of infrastructure and services built by existing telecom networks in the country with the "extremely corrupt" and "failed" government.


Why the scare quotes around "extremely corrupt"? Do you really think otherwise? India is notorious for pervasive total corruption from top to bottom.

Facebook is not doing anything about electricity; I mention that statistic to demonstrate how modern infrastructure has failed to reach a huge portion of Indians. Facebook has come up with a business model that can reach people that don't have the ability to pay out of pocket for ANY connectivity. By making it profitable for telecoms to serve these people, Free Basics would encourage that infrastructure to expand to the one billion people it hasn't reached.


I'm quoting your phrases to contrast that the fact that, notwithstanding governmental failure and corruption, the reason Facebook can do this at all is because the spread of mobile phones and internet access in India has been a major success story. There are about 900 million mobile connections, and internet adoption is accelerating, with nearly 100 million users added in an year (this is close a third of the total internet user base, so we're talking double-digit growth over 20%.)

Facebook has not come up with a business model that makes it profitable for telecoms to serve people. They've just used their negotiating power, PR resources, government and corporate lobbying to convince telecoms to zero-rate Free Basics, calling it philanthropy.


With neither Linkedin nor Facebook accounts, I can't read this article. But maybe this one is just as useful: http://www.hindustantimes.com/tech/facebook-campaign-gets-mo...


I think this could all be resolved by letting Facebook pay the cost, but if they're going to restrict where you can go, require that they are restricting it to a competitor. Twitter maybe? lesswrong? And first level outgoing links from those sources.


While I'm curious about the pros and cons of a gratis walled garden, was the greater offense the way Facebook used their presence to affect political change? Would it have been offensive to do so in an attempt to counteract pollution?


Yes. If it was an extremely self interested cleanup of only a certain kind of pollution which it would only help with on the condition that other more important kinds of pollution increased or got much less attention, and would lead to much worse long term consequences, and facebook was completelly scummy spamming everyone about "if you don't want this, you want babies to die of pollution."


Free Facebook means free Facebook Messenger.

Give a billion people free Facebook Messenger and I'm sure someone will develop an IoFM 'Internet over Facebook Messenger' protocol.

On another note, AOL was a walled-garden and look where that ended up.


This is impossible, Facebook Messenger doesn't have any open protocol at all. Facebook will fight everyone who will try to do so.


Impossible? HTML is plain text.


> for every new user that comes on the internet, Facebook makes Rs. 8, while Google makes aroumd Rs. 48

Where are these figures from? Who pays facebook for signups? Just looking for an insight into this.


He's probably just dividing their revenue (or some other financial metric) by the number of users.


Fine. Thanks.


At the end of the story a few people in Silicon Valley will get disproportionately richer than everyone else.


If there are alternative ways to bring internet access to the billion unconnected Indians, then why does the Indian government need to ban Free Basics? Those alternatives can be set up in parallel. No one will use Free Basics if the alternative is free "real" internet access.


If I was facebook, I'd tread lightly.

India has a long history of reneging on deals. Once a deal is struck with most nations, that's it. Done deal. With India, they don't care - they'll do whatever is convenient for them.

They did just that on a huge WTO deal years in the making (source: http://www.npr.org/2014/08/10/339292735/why-indias-modi-defi...). The also reneged on a solar energy trade agreement with the U.S (source: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Industry/2013/02/07/...).

Hell, even Russia and China won't back out of deals once struck. They'll piss and moan if it turns out they got the short end of the stick, but they'll still honor the deal.

I tell my clients to steer clear of India for this very reason - it's nearly impossible to know when a deal is "solid". There's very little recourse if a business or person reneges on a business deal, or rips you off.

I almost hope facebook wins this little battle; India benefits from facebook pumping a bunch of money into India's infrastructure to build it up, supplying internet to the poor, then India says "Nope, sorry facebook, you gotta go. It was nice having you!". Facebook would get what it deserves. I actually wouldn't be surprised if that happens.


I guess you have no idea what this is really about.

All we are asking our Govt. is to adopt same Net Neutrality standards that exist in US and other EU countries.

Companies like Uber/Amazon are already pumping huge money in India because they need us, not vice-versa. Just because we are open, unlike China, doesn't mean you can play unfair.


> All we are asking our Govt. is to adopt same Net Neutrality standards that exist in US and other EU countries.

I understand that, and support it 100%. I am 100% pro-net neutrality.

> Just because we are open, unlike China, doesn't mean you can play unfair.

My issue is that India will play unfair. They have a history of it.

Say what you will about all the people who have their own anecdotal bad experiences with Indian companies & professionals over the last 5-10 years (dozens of accounts that I've read here, on our very own hackernews), but the simple fact of the matter is that even India's government has a track record of reneging on deals. And these weren't small deals, these were deals years in the making.

That's not good for India. Investors will (and are) balking at the idea of entering the Indian market because who knows when India will pull the rug out from under them when the mood strikes. There's also very little legal recourse when that does happen. It doesn't help when your country is among the most corrupt countries on the planet; they ranked 94th in Transparency International's corruption index. There are 93 countries less corrupt than India. Source: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results


> India has a long history of reneging on deals. Once a deal is struck with most nations, that's it. Done deal. With India, they don't care - they'll do whatever is convenient for them.

Most nations will do whatever is convenient for them. ex: If you are from US, GOP says they will cancel the Iran nuclear deal

> Hell, even Russia and China won't back out of deals once struck. They'll piss and moan if it turns out they got the short end of the stick, but they'll still honor the deal.

Not tue, ex: Hong Kong democracy

> I tell my clients to steer clear of India for this very reason - it's nearly impossible to know when a deal is "solid".

You just described all the other countries apart from developed countries where there are no severe penalties for walking out of a deal

> My issue is that India will play unfair. They have a history of it.

Every country does it. ex: Union carbide CEO lived happily in US till he died

> That's not good for India. Investors will (and are) balking at the idea of entering the Indian market because who knows when India will pull the rug out from under them when the mood strikes.

Investors know the risks, Equity Risk Premiums are higher for India (& other developing countries). If investors don't invest in India or China due to inherent risks then they might loose out in the long run given that the future returns from developed world will not be great


> Most nations will do whatever is convenient for them.

Most nations do not renege on trade agreements made with other nations.

> GOP says they will cancel the Iran nuclear deal

"Says" and "do" are two different things, they won't because it's unprecedented. The U.S doesn't renege on massive trade agreements, or with the WTO.

> Not tue, ex: Hong Kong democracy

Ignoring the fact that I have no idea what you mean by this, I do know that it is not a trade agreement, nor is it a financial agreement with another nation. You're comparing apples and oranges.

> You just described all the other countries apart from developed countries

That was kind of my point?

> Every country does it.

Apples and oranges - no "big" country reneges on trade agreements, or reneges on deals with the WTO that were years in the making. Those things are completely unprecedented. I think you, and those who agree with you, fail to grasp the scope and what those deals meant. They literally ripped off the U.S. The U.S delivered on its end, then when it was time for India to live up to its end of the bargain, they ran off. Literally. (See here: http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/us-launches-ne...)

> If investors don't invest in India or China due to inherent risks then they might loose out in the long run

Speculation. China's economy is slowing down and India's is pretty stagnant (relatively speaking). Other than having a lot of people (over a billion each), neither country has much going for it. There is no innovation coming out of either country. Look up any "most innovative countries" on google and see if you can find China or India among them. Those countries investors may risk losing out on - countries like South Korea.

> from developed world will not be great

Just having a lot of people (big population) doesn't mean there is money to be made. Especially when the government in question (China, for example) is about as authoritative as it gets. They can literally take your business away from you and kick you out of the country and there wouldn't be a damn thing you could do about it. That's not opportunity, that's a minefield. And it's why foreign investors are staying away anb/or pulling their funds out.

Edit: I just noticed in a prior comment you said you were from India, a farming village. Don't you think you're a little biased on the matter?


Yes. A lot of things are fked up in India. That's not an argument to mess up one more. Internet is one thing we got right. Freedom of Speech, Online Censorship, Running an Internet Startup are no different than in US, even better. For starters, Our government doesn't spy. We don't get trolled for stupid patents. ETC

There are thousands of excellent Indian professionals, leading some of the top companies in the world. It's your loss if you make your opinion from the bad ones. We just have too many people.

Also, 2015 was the biggest ever in terms of VC deals 10+ Billion USD, Foreign Investments, etc.


Nicely done. Playing up stereotypes based on a couple of anecdotes. Do you have any solid evidence about this? Are you accusing a mass of 1.3 billion people, 1/5th of humanity, and their representative agents and agencies of being, what, dishonorable?

Let me google it for you,

"china renege on deal" https://www.google.com/search?q=china+reneges+on+deal&oq=chi...

"russia renege on deal" https://www.google.com/search?q=china+reneges+on+deal&oq=chi...


> laying up stereotypes based on a couple of anecdotes

I linked actual, HUGE trade deals that were important, worth billions, and between 2 nations. You linked me to empty search results.

Find me a single example of Russia or China reneging on deals with the WTO or with massive trade agreements between the U.S. There is a huge, massive difference.


India has been around for two orders of magnitude longer than facebook and is doing quite well without facebook and hopefully will gladly continue to do so.

It's quite the reverse situation here: Facebook leaves India, India continue unfazed. India gets rid of facebook, the overvalued facebook shares will plummet because facebook future depends on its success in conquering new users.


American-Indian(Sikh) guy here who actually has relatives there. India has not been doing well. Let Zuckerburg in and let him do some magic.




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