I relate to the Facebook and free access story in several ways.
I have various contacts in Africa through my travels for Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 plus in Ago-Are from 2000-2004 and my subsequent work with John Dada at Fantusam Foundation on Teachers Talking. People would often ask for my email address. I’d explain that I wasn’t going to be any help in getting anyone a visa which often ended the request but I did have people who were serious about connecting. In the early days I would just get occasional emails from my contacts via cyber cafes.
Then people started to pop up in the corner of my screen to greet me when I went on face book, and surprisingly, they didn’t seem too concerned about how much it was costing. I was glad to see they were able to get online more easily at last.
After the surge of facebook chats I came across a post explaining that my African contacts didn’t have to pay to go online and use facebook, so then I understood why they were connecting with me that way.
A few months ago I learned that a survey had showed that many people in Africa thought Facebook and the Internet were the same thing. Nigeria is the place I know best so I remembered in the survey 65% of people in Nigeria thought that Facebook was the Internet.
I hadn’t thought of that before.
Yesterday I shared a snippet – Hilary Heuler on Facebook’s ‘free internet’ plan for Africa
Today there is more (see below). I was just going to add it as another snippet, but it seemed time to pull these things together. Until the last couple of days I hadn’t thought of free Facebook as an aspect of net neutrality.
Net neutrality – Poor internet for poor people:
Net neutrality – Poor internet for poor people: Why Facebook’s Internet.org amounts to economic racism
Written by Mahesh Murthy – April 17, 2015
Perhaps you’ve been following the news from the digital front in India—there’s been a significant movement in support of net neutrality.
This is the concept that holds, among other things, that all bits and bytes should be treated the same on all telco and carrier networks, so that all users can have their experience of exactly the same internet, with no bias for or against any site for any reason.
Over 750,000 emails have been to the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI), the telecom regulator, from http://savetheinternet.in in the last week. This in itself is unprecedented. (Savetheinternet.in is a webpage created as a platform for consumers to send their responses to TRAI.)
Deep distrust of Zero, in the land that invented it.
One sidelight that has assumed much larger proportions now is the status of “Zero Rating” services. Simply put, these are products where a set of websites are bundled and users get to surf them for free, because the bandwidth in these cases is paid to the operator by the sites themselves.
Two of the more infamous zero offerings are Airtel Zero and Facebook’s Internet.org. More