Facebook has lifted several restrictions on its Internet.org programme, meaning potentially any website can be accessed through the free Internet service.
However, critics are urging the social network to go further in offering unbridled Internet access, claiming Facebook is violating the net neutrality principles it claims to support.
At the heart of the argument is Facebook’s ‘walled garden’ approach. Until now, Facebook curated its own list of websites that could be accessed through Internet.org, which aims to bring free web access to people in developing countries.
At launch, only 38 websites were available in India, including Facebook itself, and various job board and news websites.
In a news release yesterday, Internet.org announced the Internet.org Platform – “an open program for developers to easily create services that integrate with Internet.org”. Essentially, the program allows any website to sign up to be part of the service.
So what’s ticking off the critics? Restrictions. Lots of restrictions.
Facebook claims these limitations are due to technical restrictions. Less explainable are the demands for developers to share user data – according to The Inquirer, Facebook has “warned developers in the small print that their service must allow the firm to track users and share that data with telecoms companies and the government”.
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