Facebook's Goals for Internet.org and Why It's Facing Criticism

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-05-20
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Previous
    Facebook's Goals for Internet.org and Why It's Facing Criticism
    Next

    Facebook's Goals for Internet.org and Why It's Facing Criticism

    By Don Reisinger
  • Previous
    It's the Brainchild of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
    Next

    It's the Brainchild of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

    What one needs to understand first about Internet.org is that Facebook stands at the center of it. The initiative was developed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and his company heads up its development. While there are other companies involved, including device makers and wireless carriers, it's Facebook that matters most.
  • Previous
    Two-Thirds of The World's Population Is Unconnected
    Next

    Two-Thirds of The World's Population Is Unconnected

    So, what exactly is the goal of Internet.org? According to the project's site, one-third of the world's population is connected to the Internet. The Internet.org initiative aims to connect the remaining two-thirds.
  • Previous
    Wireless Carriers Are Key Partners
    Next

    Wireless Carriers Are Key Partners

    To get people online, the core component is wireless carriers. Telecoms around the world already have the infrastructure in place to extend connectivity to customers, but many people simply cannot afford those connections. By partnering with carriers, Facebook is trying to eliminate pricing barriers and provide Web connections to anyone who wants one. Without the cooperation of wireless carriers, it would be difficult for Internet.org to get off the ground.
  • Previous
    The 'Free' Deal Is an Issue for Some
    Next

    The 'Free' Deal Is an Issue for Some

    The "free" offer of Internet connectivity is proving to be a major issue for critics. They argue that by offering free access to Internet.org, and thus the applications that come bundled with it, Facebook is giving preferential treatment to its partners. That, in turn, harms competition and violates network neutrality, which assumes all Internet traffic is treated equally.
  • Previous
    Facebook Worked With Select Few App Partners
    Next

    Facebook Worked With Select Few App Partners

    Much of the criticism—especially in India—focuses on the concern that Facebook is working with just a select few partners. The company had deals in place with prominent app developers but would only allow applications that met very stringent rules to work on Internet.org. Critics contend this limits competition on the Web and ensures that the millions who have connected through Internet.org so far can only work with Facebook's approved partners.
  • Previous
    Facebook Has Opened Development to Others
    Next

    Facebook Has Opened Development to Others

    Responding to the critics, Facebook in April announced that it was opening Internet.org to any and all developers. Facebook thought that the move would allay concerns about equality. However, all that did was stoke the flames.
  • Previous
    Critics Say Facebook's Rules Are Still Too Restrictive
    Next

    Critics Say Facebook's Rules Are Still Too Restrictive

    Now critics are objecting to the rules Facebook is enforcing for developers who want to build apps for Internet.org. Facebook says that while anyone can build apps for Internet.org, it won't approve certain data-intensive apps or video apps. In addition, all apps must be free and approved by Facebook to run on Internet.org. Facebook is the final arbiter of what gets to play on the network, and it's being criticized for that.
  • Previous
    Facebook Says Some Internet Is Better Than None
    Next

    Facebook Says Some Internet Is Better Than None

    Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a column in India earlier this year that providing Internet service to people in emerging markets even with some limits is far better than leaving them with no Web access at all. So rather than complain about competition, Zuckerberg says, Internet.org should be celebrated for giving people something.
  • Previous
    Public Good or Facebook's Gain?
    Next

    Public Good or Facebook's Gain?

    Since Internet.org's founding two years ago, debate has raged over whether it is truly an open-handed public service. There is a lingering belief that Facebook's move with Internet.org is self-serving and will only give the company more power and wealth by creating in effect a captive audience that it can channel content and advertising to, further bolstering its position as the world's dominant social network. It's worth noting that Facebook is the only prominent social network on Internet.org, which limits the options for people who want to connect with friends and family. Facebook argues that it's offering Internet.org for all the right reasons. But competitors say the service is self-serving and its real goal is to help the company generate more cash. Image 9: Please use this image:
  • Previous
    Critics Want the Entire Internet
    Next

    Critics Want the Entire Internet

    Finally, there's the question of how much Internet content should be allowed through Internet.org. As mentioned, Internet.org currently only supports select applications and sites that match up with Facebook's policies. Facebook's critics say that Internet.org should be little more than a gateway to the entire Internet that would allow people to explore at will. It's a nice thought, but considering how few people have high-speed Internet access and the disposable income to pay for it, it's still pie-in-the-sky for two-thirds of the world's population.
 

Internet.org was supposed to be a great way for people around the globe who live in remote areas where the Internet is not readily available to get on the Web. The service, led by Facebook, has already connected millions of people, and the company hopes a billion people will eventually come online via Internet.org. But lately Facebook's brainchild is coming under fire around the world. A collective of 65 advocacy organizations from 31 countries has released an open letter arguing that Internet.org is not serving its purpose and actually violates the core tenets of a free and open Internet. The adverse publicity has cast Internet.org in a negative light, and critics are questioning whether the service is being developed in the interests of those who can't get Internet service or Facebook itself. This slide show covers how Internet.org came about, how it's evolved so far and why it is facing criticism now. It will also try to clarify what Internet.org is actually offering now and what it's not.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
 
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters























 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rocket Fuel