Future Tense

Indian Facebook Users School Mark Zuckerberg on the Kind of Internet Their Country Needs

Demonstrators protest against Facebook’s Free Basics Internet service in Bangalore, India, Jan. 2, 2016.

Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India blocked Facebook’s ability to offer its Free Basics Internet connectivity in the county. The decision followed heated debate in India about whether Free Basics is incongruous with the tenets of net neutrality.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has consistently defended Free Basics, which is part of Facebook’s broader Internet.org connectivity initiative. Unsurprisingly, he was “disappointed with today’s decision” and said in a statement on Facebook that the company is still intent on addressing connectivity issues in India. “More than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that’s why we’re so committed to connecting them.”

His heart may be in the right place, but “these people” and others from around the world had a bunch of smart things to say about Zuckerberg’s statement. So they did what good Facebook users do and commented directly on his post.

“Come on. Internet access for everyone doesn’t mean giving two or three sites to use for free and paying different prices for the rest,” wrote Anushka Banerjee. “India might have low literacy but we are not dumb to be fooled Mark!” responded Brijesh D Nayak.

Manav Patadia wrote:

Mark we Indians Love you for what you are. We just wanted net neutrality. You don’t know how big cheaters this Telecom Operators are. They don’t have motive of connecting India. They just want to exploit Indians for making profit. If you really wanna help us give us Free Internet and not Free Basics.

Numerous commenters suggested donating free Wi-Fi or data as an alternative to Free Basics. Rohit Kumar wrote, “Your vision is appreciable but If you truly care about them then consider offering limited free data rather controlled access to selected websites which furthers vested interests.”

And most commenters were respectful even as they criticized Free Basics. Mohammad Layeeque wrote, “Indians don’t want discriminated internet service Mark. If you really want to help people of India grow, change their life and become better, please plan Free World Wide Web, all internet services and not only Facebook and few websites what you decide. – Regards.”

Put simply by Purva Deshpande, “We r all up for your mission of connecting india through internet.. but not at the cost of compromising net neutrality.. please find out better ways tht wrks for every1 n we will support u in your goals.”