Facebook using its own app to rally support for Internet.org in India – The Verge

When Google uses its enormously popular homepage for anything that isn’t search-related, it immediately attracts attention. That same sort of scrutiny is now being directed at Facebook, which has the power to reach billions of people across the web and mobile with any message it wants. In India, the company is now using that access to push the cause of Internet.org — without giving users a way to voice disagreement with the service’s principles. A new banner has recently shown up in Facebook’s main app (and website) in India, and it presents a simple question: “Do you want India to have free basic internet services?”

Most people would probably hit “Yes, I’m in” without a second thought. Why shouldn’t anyone have free internet? But if you’ve kept up with the rising controversies around Internet.org, there are perfectly valid reasons why you’d disagree with Mark Zuckerberg’s approach to spreading web access to regions where people often lack connectivity. Facebook doesn’t offer any option for negative feedback, though, since the only other choice the prompt displays is “Not now.”

You can either show support or tell Facebook ‘not now’

A Facebook spokesperson told Quartz, “Our goal is to help give [India’s internet users] a voice with their government in sharing their support for programs like Internet.org that help overcome barriers to connectivity in their country.” A positive response results in Facebook automatically filling out a comment reply that indicates your support for Internet.org’s mission.

Internet.org has been met with stiff criticism — particularly in India — over its seeming disregard for net neutrality. The backlash hasn’t gone unnoticed by Facebook, which has taken steps to open Internet.org to new mobile partners and let more developers in. And on Monday, the company published a “Myths and Facts” blog post in another attempt to dispel any negative perceptions. “Internet.org doesn’t create a two-tiered internet,” the page reads. “It gives people an onramp to the internet, and after using free basic services, they understand the value of the internet and then access the internet outside of Internet.org.” Facebook says that “Internet.org and net neutrality can and must co-exist.”

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