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posted by janrinok on Saturday October 08 2016, @04:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the follow-the-money dept.

Facebook is interested in bringing zero-rated "Free Basics" Internet access to Americans, after its failure in India:

Facebook has been in talks for months with U.S. government officials and wireless carriers with an eye toward unveiling an American version of an app that has caused controversy abroad, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The social media giant is trying to determine how to roll out its program, known as Free Basics, in the United States without triggering the regulatory scrutiny that effectively killed a version of the app in India earlier this year. If Facebook succeeds with its U.S. agenda for Free Basics — which has not been previously reported — it would mark a major victory for the company as it seeks to connect millions more to the Web, and to its own platform.

The U.S. version of Free Basics would target low-income and rural Americans who cannot afford reliable, high-speed Internet at home or on smartphones. The app does not directly pay for users' mobile data. Rather, it allows users to stretch their data plans by offering, in partnership with wireless carriers, free Internet access to resources such as online news, health information and job leads.

Also at Ars Technica, CBS, USA Today, and CNET.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @04:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @04:28PM (#411780)

    Facebook is interested in bringing zero-rated "Free Basics" Internet access to Americans, after its failure in India

    At facebook: hey, let's try the same scheme with real morons this time...

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday October 08 2016, @05:44PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday October 08 2016, @05:44PM (#411798) Homepage

      Americans' personal vanity knows no bounds.

      Just after the Jew Marissa Mayer was caught sucking up to a mass-warrant with Yahoo, here we have another Jew attempting Jew bullshit.

      Jews are destroying Europe, and you pantywaists are not doing a goddamn thing about it. To elaborate: Merkel was caught telling ZuckerJew to silence the malcontents, which he started doing.

      Your destiny is in your hands. Will you sink or swim?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @09:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @09:28PM (#411841)

        You got serious issues, man...

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @10:08PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @10:08PM (#411846)

          Day by day I wonder
          If I will be torn asunder
          By these things that I know that nobody else knows
          Or maybe it’s the drinking
          I guess we should consult a Bible
          Everybody needs a sign - or
          Bless the birds and the bees
          The flowers and trees
          And blessed be the slacker

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by FunkyLich on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:13PM

    by FunkyLich (4689) on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:13PM (#411804)

    I just spent some minutes just to understand what this "Free Basics" is. And what it turned out to be was some smartphone app that is called "Free Basics".
    What a waste of my time reading details on how some company of the 'Internet Bubble 2.0' kind is trying to convince the government on having a monitoring and surveillance programme be not only legal but also government backed and promoted. In TFA is also mentioned that this app is already doing its thing in 49 countries. I wonder which ones are these countries that have such a low esteem (or high distrust) for their own population?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @07:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @07:22PM (#411822)

      Its not about trust, money, or public service. Its about control, and the powerful in all countries realize that data mining their citizens will help them stay in power. Is the happiness quotient too low? Roll out some perks, maybe spread around a little money, and they're back in business with a citizenry that isn't quite ready to get their pitchforks.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:38PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:38PM (#411812)

    so they want to make it so that people who don't know anything about the net get free access but only to these asshole's sites? kind of like advertising cigarettes to kids. get them while they're young. also dovetails nicely with the government's aim of surveillance of rural people. you know, the people that don't think america is all a mega city prison colony.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:46PM (#411814)

    Facebook: "Hey, can we have a lot of money to pretend to help poor people while really making ourselves more profitable?"
    Government: "Sure! It's not our money anyways! Also: thanks for the campaign bribe!"

    • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Saturday October 08 2016, @08:09PM

      by rts008 (3001) on Saturday October 08 2016, @08:09PM (#411826)

      The thing that really matters though, is whether they can outbid the telcos that will oppose it.

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday October 11 2016, @11:48PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday October 11 2016, @11:48PM (#413170) Journal

        Why would the telcos oppose it? The only reason I can see is they might fear that people who don't use much data will stop buying data plans and start using this instead. But they're still getting paid. And for the people who actually DO use it, maybe they can charge more now since they would now also offer "free" basic service. The bottom tier is no longer bottom tier so they can charge more for it. Better yet, "free" basics might not get you to the outside net, but it does get you onto the ISP network. Which gives them an extra lock-in device. If the free basics plan covers sites within their network -- including a specific free basics proxy for stuff like Facebook -- then that means you can't watch Netflix, but you *can* potentially watch XFinity streaming content or whatever.

        So...The ISP may get customers without much expense -- they don't have to build out bandwidth or pay interconnect fees. It's targeting users that probably wouldn't own a smartphone otherwise, so that's money they just aren't getting right now.
        The ISPs may also get more control -- I don't see any details of how the scheme is going to work, but it might involve something like a proxy server at the ISP, which would reduce their bandwidth requirements even further, while providing them full access to the data passing through. Which they can then sell for advertising, or boost their own ad platform, or sell to the gov, whatever.
        The ISPs could also just get paid directly -- companies could pay to get their site listed in a carrier's "Free basics" app.

        The carriers HATE net neutrality, because it prevents them from charging more for certain services and prevents them from creating arbitrary restrictions to control their customers. This is a chance for them to reverse or subvert many of those restrictions while claiming they're doing so to provide access to poor and rural areas for the public benefit. Which means it's far more likely that such schemes will be approved if they're cloaked in "Free Basics" than they would otherwise.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @06:50PM (#411817)

    Yup help the poor and give them limited internet with ALL the spying.

    Yup get idea

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @07:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @07:00PM (#411820)

    While self-serving as fuck, I'm sure lots of people in facebook can't see anything wrong with it. After all, it is good thing for wikipedia to be freely available to everyone. But in the end, it is nothing more than making the internet into a ghetto for poor people and a full-featured place for those with money.

    In countries where zero-rating has happened, its cool to see how the locals bend it to their own purposes. [vice.com]

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @07:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @07:53PM (#411824)

    Jobs, what jobs? You mean the deceptive advertising of companies that post every position they have on every job board even when they're not hiring for any position? Those jobs?

    Facebook is colluding with Human Resources to promote the fiction of jobs in America now?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @08:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08 2016, @08:28PM (#411831)

    American hackers will get the opportunity to escape from the walled garden of Free Basics without needing to travel to use it.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09 2016, @01:21AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09 2016, @01:21AM (#411884)

    The U.S. version of Free Basics would target low-caste and rural Americans who cannot afford reliable, high-speed Internet at home or on smartphones.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09 2016, @01:26AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09 2016, @01:26AM (#411887)

      Equal opportunity spying.