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A freebie or to be free of

| SHILPA VASUDEVAN
Published : Dec 29, 2015, 9:44 pm IST
Updated : Dec 29, 2015, 9:44 pm IST

That’s the debate revolving around Free Basics, with divided opinions. We present the different sides.

YouTube grab of AIB’S video on Free Basics
 YouTube grab of AIB’S video on Free Basics

That’s the debate revolving around Free Basics, with divided opinions. We present the different sides.

The recent debate about Facebook’s Free Basics is complicated; that much anyone is sure of. The sides are divided with the Net Neutrality vs Save The Internet campaigns, both going against each other with much gusto. Facebook has started coming out with sentimental ads, featuring pictures of rural Indian families, propagating how their venture is a connection to 65 million new jobs and such counter response has been filed even in the form of AIB videos!

While Facebook has claimed in a series of ads that they haven’t been advertising about Free Basics, the same has been disguised in the form of notifications asking us to pledge our support for the same. Tamaarah, a fashion designer was stumped with the mountain of notifications from her friends saying that they are supporting Free Basics. “Probably, the converse is also true. I haven’t made much of it at the moment, but am surely going to get to the bottom of this, regardless of whether I sign up or not.”

Things took a turn for the social networking giant, after the Save The Internet campaign, reached new heights, so much that TRAI has seeked another consultation paper on the issue.

Sorav Jain, a social media expert, helps to break down the dilemma. “Facebook is highly commercialised a platform. Few years back, they launched Facebook pages, where people started building free communities with an organic reach of cent per cent. Now, the usage has plummeted, according to me. Brands who invested in ‘likes’ campaign then build a community, considering the fact that it allowed them to collect customer base, that too for free. It is a case of déja vu now. Free Basics is going to be devoid of ads, they say. No prizes on guessing what will ultimately transpire. I am in favour of free Internet but not free basics, especially when they are going to decide which sites to be used.”

The likes of people supporting net neutrality even includes US President Barack Obama! Raunaq Manjottil, an entrepreneur and a net neutrality activist, is amused and says that he is not missing the trick at all. “Free Basics is the worst of options when it comes to net neutrality. Facebook is going on record to say they aren’t having a monetising idea in place, but of course, it is a bummer — the telecom operators are going to be of advantage here. When rural India, which seems to be their ‘poster’ idea doesn’t have electricity or water in some cases, how are they even going to make use of free Internet All of this comes across as a sham; Facebook is purely out to monopolise the Internet.”

He further adds, “Further, FB’s declaration that Free basics is going to be an open platform, is frankly, an attempt at brainwashing. They are going to set up guidelines and regulate state of affairs. And not to forget in this debate, what if user data is going to be shared with their clients and security issues crop up ”

While the debate is raging, Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken or rather which road to take is of relevance here! Will Chennai choose right Only time will tell. Fingers crossed, y’all.